Spread Your Wings… Write Your Book!
Think of your First Draft as those Messy Teenage Years
Glenna Mageau, Award Winning Author, Speaker, The Write Success Coach
What is writing?
Let’s consider what writing really is. Simply put, it is putting words down on paper. Well that’s easy enough or at least sounds easy enough but we don’t see it as just that do we?
Nope, we see it as this profession that is only done by professionals who are really good at what they do and they are making money at it.
Too often we think, well that’s not me. So we don’t call ourselves a writer, even if we are actually writing.
So what makes writing so difficult?
Let’s go back to grade one. Now for many of us, especially if you are older than about 40, I’m not so sure that grade one was all that much fun. The rules were pretty strict and things were taught in a way that you did it their way or got yelled at. Ouch. Sad that the teachers of before were taught there was only one way of learning and only one way of doing.
So guess what? In grade one, you were taught to print out your letters. The letters had to be printed just so which meant you had to keep them between the lines. And to get better at doing this you had to repeat… repeat… repeat. And sometimes miss recess to do so.
Then as you went through school you were taught more rules—sentence structure, punctuation, grammar… some of which has and is actually changing.
Then you were taught how to write reports and essays. There was a specific format that you had to follow and the information had to be in a certain order.
So before you’ve even tried to write something that interests you, you’re trying to keep track of all the rules you learned. Which means you’re mind is too busy trying to keep it all straight to be creative.
It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just what was taught and what we interpreted from that.
Can I end a sentence with of?
There has to be a messy stage
There is nothing more exciting than getting an idea to write a story, a message, a book and then find it difficult to start or to keep going.
Too often when we start writing we worry about the end product. But here’s what we forget, back when we were in school we had to do research. We wrote out information that we wanted to include. And then we started to pull that information together, with our understanding of it and our ideas and to write out our report or essay. I don’t know about your first draft or fifth draft, but mine were always a mess. I had information here, there and I was moving information around to make it fit and have it make sense.
The early form of Cut and Paste
My first year of University, I had several papers due, which stressed me a lot. I used to do my research, write some of my paper, do more research and then write out the full essay. But once I’d written it, I’d rearrange the information. This was before the ease of the computer. It was all hand written and then typed up.
I used to cut my pages and tape pieces for where I thought the information should go. When I liked how it read, I’d rewrite it so that I could then type it out. It was very time consuming but there wasn’t the luxury of typing out your information and have it saved so that you could edit it easily. You had to hand write it, yes that was a while ago, and then rewrite it without mistakes to make it look good. And then you’d worry about typing it and pray you didn’t need to use a lot of white out. Well after writing a 10 + page report, 3 to 5 times or more, you figure out a way to take short cuts. So I literally just cut my pages til I had the right order. I call that the early form of cut and paste.
There needs to be this messy stage so that you can get to the final end product, your story or book. And believe me, getting there is so worth it. In this blog post, What Writing a Book Gives You, I talk about all the benefits of writing a book.
You need to allow yourself to gather, and to write down all of your ideas. It does not matter what order you do this in or how you do it. Gather and then write. Write and then gather. Both are fine. You just need to get the information down, so then you have something to work with. That’s when you worry about putting it in an order so that it looks good… sounds good…
“Think of your first draft as those messy teenage years.”
Drop the Rules
The best gift you can give yourself is to drop the rules. By dropping the rules, you are freeing up your mind to be creative and to just write. It doesn’t have to stop you ever other sentence and remind you about putting a comma, a period, breaking up your long sentence… You just write. That can all be fixed later.
Don’t worry those rules and the formatting is important but not until you are nearing the finish line. You can go back when you are done your story, your book, your message and fix it in the final rewrite and editing phase.
Be Messy… don’t worry you’ll grow out of it… maybe…
The best thing about those teenage messy years is that eventually your child grows out of those years. Well the same will happen with your writing. To get better at writing you need to write. You need to allow your mind to open and the ideas to flow. The more you do this the better you are going to get and the less messy you will be. Or at least that is the goal but it really doesn’t matter if you keep writing your first draft like a messy teenager.
The goal is to write a good story, a good message, a good book. And all of that really comes to life in the rewrites where you reorganize and see what adds and what takes away from the story.
Allow the mess!
Give Yourself Permission to Write
There really is no right or wrong way to write, it’s all about what works for you. But you need to be able to get beyond the hurdles holding you back.
Unfortunately, we let the final, perfect product be what we are aiming for with our first draft. There are very few people, if any, who can write an amazing first draft. And definitely not when they are starting out.
So aim for the messy teenage years, and just write. Don’t worry, you’ll reach the final, perfect product.
Stick with it!