Every one of us is different, which means we each need to discover what process works best for us when we write. Some writers meticulously plan out every detail of their story before they begin the first draft, some dive right in and wing it. Some writers will polish a chapter until they can move on, some power on and go back later to do the polishing. There is no right or wrong way to write, however this post is about the latter technique. It's about why I've found writing a fast first draft is advantageous:
1. To avoid the doubts. Doubts can make the writer question everything from the believability of their plot, the realism of their characters, and even the worth of being a writer. These doubts may raise some valid questions, but mostly they'll cripple the writer. As a result, the writer may veer from staying true to their story, or worse, quit. Writing a fast first draft will keep those doubts under control.
2. To be yourself. Similar to the point above: If you think about it too much, you could over analyse. The writing could then become stilted and 'proper' and you could lose your unique voice.
3. To keep the descriptions under control. If you are a writer like me, you can get caught up in the wonderful world you've created and indulge in rich descriptions. However, if you're moving quickly through the story to get it down in words, then you're likely not spending the time on descriptions. Descriptions can not only distract the writer, but when they're overdone they can distract the reader. I find it harder to delete a beautiful description than to add one later.
4. To stay focussed on the main plot points. Distractions have a way of veering the story away from the main plot, especially if you don't plan the story ahead. Writing fast will help an author keep an eye on the big picture.
5. To save time. I used to edit as I wrote because I loved to read my polished word. The problem was when I'd finished writing that first draft and read through it as a whole, I discovered some of those polished scenes had to go. I'd wasted so much time on sections I eventually tossed. Now I tell myself anything can be fixed… later! The main story structure is the most important element of the first draft stage. The rest can wait.
6. To finish. Many people start writing a novel, yet so few actually finish. Because writing a novel is a slow process, celebrating at key milestones is important to keep the motivation levels high. For me, finishing the first draft is one such milestone. When it's done I have a completed story in my hands. Don't underestimate the power of a finished story.
Do you like to write a fast first draft? What do you find slows the process down the most?
Karen Gowen for the idea. It's a great way to meet new blogging friends. Please spread the word!