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  • Writer's pictureS. Yumi Yamamoto

Mad Draft!

I have no idea what to write about this week... but that seems like a good topic to write about😊 I'm so original...

November is about writing, not about writing well. It's not even about writing a good story, or good characters, or dialogue, or literally anything else that makes up a novel. It's about shoveling: shoveling words, plot points, mindless details, stupid choices, terrible descriptions, and flat-ass characters so that, one day, you'll be able to go back and throw out the shit you accidentally put into your sandbox. Once the shit is cleared, you then have the basics to build whatever world you want. But first, you shovel.

That's why people say the first draft is always, ALWAYS bad. If writers just came out with their first draft being excellent, we wouldn't need editors, first readers, sensitivity readers, etc. Obviously, we need these people, and they are invaluable to us. Not knowing what to write is okay, even encouraged. It's more important that you write SOMETHING, even if you end up scrapping it later. What if that something made you write something else down the line that was the key point for your story? What if you see that it's just a diamond in the rough in need of a few cuts and polishes? What if it's actually the most important thing in your novel and you just didn't realize it at the time? This is why bad work is better than no work at all.

I'm writing this not simply for your benefit, either. I have to tell myself this exact thing often because writers have a tendency to be their own worst enemy. We tell ourselves that it's not worth it, that we need to focus elsewhere because the work is terrible, that we should just throw out the whole thing. We judge the work as it is because we love it and we care about our work.

My father yelled a lot (I swear this has something to do with writing, just bare with me). He taught a bunch of middle school kids who would rather be anywhere else but band class. I remember him treating them the same way he treated my sister and I, which was harsh I'll admit. Nothing was ever good enough because he knew we could do better. If we were in the throes of self-congratulations, he'd nit-pick the details because it wasn't right. What we learned later, which was more terrifying than any time he ever yelled at us, was when we stopped yelling and just left us alone. If he ever stopped criticizing us, if he stopped telling us we could do better, it was because he had given up on us. He believed in our ability to be great, he was there for us when we failed or stumbled. He never wanted us to be complacent with our accomplishments for too long, knowing that there was always a way to improve. He cared enough to not give us a gold star for participation, and he made us earn praise. And when we did earn the praise, it came fully and genuinely.

This attitude is what writers go through. That draft isn't good enough, and it frustrates us that it wasn't better. We nit-pick and tear ourselves to pieces over the work because we know it can be better, and we care so much about it. We push ourselves to the limit, driving ourselves into emotional frenzies or depression, because we want this story to be the best it can be. When we draft, we second guess ourselves and get worked up over creative blocks because we know we can do better.

Better is for the second draft. Better is for the edit.

We're human, and we don't always get it right the first time. When we err, we learn from our mistakes and take steps to fix them. So what if the sudden presence of dinosaurs and wombats doesn't make sense, and that entire chapter needs to be scrapped? There must have been something in there that was worth saving, even if it has to be reworked into something marvelous. Maybe it's worth it simply because you had a bit of fun that day and your mind is fresh for the next bit that you do. Our state of mind is so important. Don't forget that writing is fun :) Sometimes, that's all we need to keep going!

So draft for drafting's sake. It's not supposed to be good. It's supposed to exist ❤

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