Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just Tell The Story!

funny pictures - ~ NO KITTEH LABOR LAWS? ~

I'm in the midst of a bit of a life-frenzy at the moment so this post will be short, but it has to be written, in the hope that by writing it, I will damn well REMEMBER it!

As I said, life in general is kinda nuts, chez Walsh. I won't bore you with the details, except to say that most days, I feel like a hamster stuck in a turbo-charged hamster wheel.

I’ve also gone and set myself a deadline by which I want to get my revisions done. A good thing, really, because having a deadline stops me from futzing around and getting nowhere fast. However, there is a dark side to being on a schedule. See, I've reached a point in my revisions where I must write a slew of new stuff, and in my busyness, and desperate to make my deadline, I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to get everything I write perfectly perfect, first go. Second, at tops. To save time. To reach my deadline.

Yeah. Stupid. I know.

I realised what I was doing this week, when every scene I wrote came out so clunky it was as if they'd been written by someone for whom English was their third language, at best, and with as much freshness and life as a ten day dead corpse.

Because for me, trying to aim for absolute perfection in first draft writing means I concentrate, consciously and ridiculously hard, on craft - have I used this dialogue tag before? Is the pacing in that second paragraph off? Have I really shown that character's turmoil, or have I been lazy and resorted to telling? - and I forget to concentrate on the thing most important to first drafts of any persuasion – JUST TELL THE STORY.

I need to feel what my characters are feeling, immerse myself in their lives and their troubles and let the new words I write grow from there. Sure, craft does play a part in this early stage of creation, but I need to remember to have faith that what I can do will be good enough, for a first draft. And to remember that deliberate, purposeful, heavy duty crafting is for later, when there’s a half decent idea on the page to massage into shape.

So. I need to slow down. I need to remember that first and foremost, writers are story tellers. And need to tattoo on the back of my hands, where I’ll see them as I write, the words of Ernest Hemmingway :-

"The first draft of anything is shit."


  1. Wow, self-imposed deadline...impressive! :D I should probably make one of those myself, as I've been slacking off a little lately. I've been doing STUFF, but not ENOUGH of it.

  2. Yes, thank you! Every once in a while I try to write like others, and get things right in the first draft. And that's when everything derails...

    Wishing you luck on your deadlines Rachel! I can't wait to see more - all! - of this story :-)

  3. YES! I'm coming to terms with this now. I went from editing my past manuscript for months as planned for the querying process to now starting my new novel and telling myself "It's okay if it doesn't make sense, and you're confused, and some scenes need to me (re)moved later, and all that. You'll fix it later." But my god, does that feel impossible sometimes.

    <3 Gina Blechman

  4. Ahh, I know what you're going through. I've been fretting about getting everything perfect with my WIP, when I should just go with the flow. I took a step back the other day and reminded myself it's only a first draft--I can worry about polishing it up after it's finished.

    Awesome post :) Good luck with your deadlines!

  5. @ Trisha - hmm, you might not know the other name I go by - Queen of Procrastination. So sadly, no, it's not that impressive. Deadlines are a necessity for me, or else nothing gets done!

  6. @ Deniz - thanks! And I do commiserate. Going off the rails is something I have done too much of in the past. The incidents are slowly becoming fewer and further between though, so there's some hope for me yet.

  7. @ Gina - oh, I feel your pain! And we're not alone, it seems - I recently read a published writer's answer to the question, "How do you write?"...

    "In a state of constant anxiety, and holding my breath," was her reply.


  8. @ Kristina - Absolutely, absolutely, and absolutely!

    And thanks. :-)

  9. Rach -- I needed this. Thanks for the slap on the hand. :)

  10. Well said, Rach, and absolutely something I need to slap into myself again, too.