A Universally Accepted Truth of Writing

I’ve met lots of people who have great ideas. Here are some that I’ve heard:

1. The Gods of Olympus are seeking replacements so they can retire or finally die. A former SWAT officer is called upon and offered the job as Thanatos, the God of Death. Other gods refuse to recognize these newcomers as gods, starting a bitter battle.

2. A nerdy cookbook with easy and great recipes for game night entitled the Omnomnomnicon.

3. A witch, in order to prevent her and her magic from being found out, is split into two people. She must then learn not only to hide from the Empire’s forces still actively hunting her, but must also learn to work with both of her selves.

4. A humorous collection of marriage advice. From “don’t cook bacon naked” to “screw what everyone else says or does and do what works for you”

I’d be excited to read any of these. The hard part is I will probably never get the chance.

Why?

Because first drafts are terrifying. It feels like accomplishing that first draft should be a reward in and of itself, which it is. But give it 72 hours and come back to it. The Universal truth is it will look like crap. It’s expected. All the hard work and soul we embed in our first draft is going to be changed, edited, deleted, revised, reread, then edited and revised again.

Repeat this several times.

This makes sitting down to write that first draft pretty scary, right? I agree. But, like so many people during NaNoWriMo, time will be spent sitting in front of the keyboard ignoring the books and TV shows I enjoy.

I’ve learned to think of writing like sculpture. You write that first draft, and that means you’ve chipped out the basic shape of the story Imageyou’re trying to tell. Someone can walk past, admire it for a second and say “that’s going to look good once it’s done.” So you spend some more time chipping away and sometimes even breaking out a grinder to take out bigger portions and sometimes you can even carve some details out. That’s when people start to get excited, genuinely excited.

Then it gets more tedious. You summon the courage to ask someone else to take a look at it. They come back with a great big list of stuff that you can’t believe you missed. So, out comes the chisel and hammer and once again you’re spending long hours into the night making corrections, writing in new and deleting old.

The good news is, unlike a sculpture, rewriting can occur a hundred times. once too much has been taken out of the rock it’s irreversible.

So, to all my fellow writers out there, brave the fear. It is absolutely still worth it to sit at the computer ignoring the real world while the one from your mind is created. Your TV show will still be there. If not, it will be on Netflix. If you avoid social media for a time then you won’t get spoilers plus you’ll have more time to write.

I leave you with a modulation on a Harry Potter quote from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 

Think of it this way; every great writer in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now, students. If they can do it, why not us?

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