Susan started it. Jen shoveled more onto the pile. They’ve already made the point more brilliantly than I ever could, but I’d like to weigh in with a few of my own thoughts on the writing of a crappy first draft.
I should probably start with a confession: When it comes to, well, fecal matter, I’m a bit anal-retentive. If I catch a whiff of baby diaper, I feel faint. If my flip-flops squish into doggy-do, I go into a full-on swoon. Yeah, I’m persnickety like that. And until recently, I couldn’t bear the thought of a stinky first draft, either. Go on to the next word/phrase/page/chapter without first making the previous ones presentable? It offends the sensibilities, don’t you know.
In the past three weeks, I’ve written roughly 48 pages, which is way, way more than I ever produced in that amount of time in the past! It’s also a huge pile of malodorous manure. I swan, this new material stinks worse than an overflowing outhouse on a hot summer day. No matter, I’m just holding my nose and letting ‘er rip.
How did that happen? (You did ask, didn’t you? Or maybe I was just reading your mind.) Well, thanks to my writing mentors (lucky me, I have many), I’ve finally learning this about first drafts: they can and should be crap!
I’m resisting the urge to produce deodorized, fluffed and polished first drafts. Oooh, that’s hard! Little by little, I’m extracting myself from the constipating clutches of my inner critic. I feel like I can breathe again! I’m hoping that the poopy stuff I’m writing now will someday grow into a meaningful and well-written story. And in the meantime, I’ll just keep reminding myself that it’ll happen much sooner if I allow that first draft to flow, unrestricted and unedited.