I’ve been thinking a lot about first drafts lately. On Wednesday, after my first “Postcard Wednesday” post went live, I decided I’d use the post (and the rush of creative thinking) to start the first draft of my postcard book. I opened up the Scrivener project I’d created in June and felt detached from the chapter headings I’d created back then. I made another subheading, and titled it Essay 1. I wrote 37 words and added the two pictures from Wednesday’s post. I was unsure about where this was going or if I was getting ahead of myself, but a draft has to start somewhere. I started it at Number 1.
There’s a quote that many folks online line to cite, attributed to Dorothy Parker: “I hate writing, I love having written.” It’s supposed to embody how difficult some writers find the writing process. But I enjoy the rough draft stage. It’s not all fun and games, but I like the freedom to put down on paper anything that comes to mind. I am a perfectionist and I have strategies to revise extensively. I try to enjoy the first draft stage.
But I find difficulty in starting. That’s why I often start a first draft with a freewrite. I give myself permission to fuck it up, to write whatever. That strategy only works when I trust that I will eventually come to some coherent idea after the first few clumsy attempts at the first sentences. And trusting yourself is hard!
I think that’s where writerly self-care is important: we have to nurture The Writer Inside Us so that we can develop the trust to push past those first few clumsy sentences, all the way through to the end of the first draft.
Readers, do you feel you trust your writerly voice? How did you develop that?