My Truth About Drafting

When I was a young(er) writer, I thought there was nothing more full-filling than filling pages and pages with a story. I didn’t care about silly things like word count or character arcs or plots.

Then I became an author and I realized that drafting a novel is one of the deeper levels of Hell.

I hate drafting. And you know what? I’m not alone. It’s validating to talk to other writers who confess that, like me, they prefer the challenge of revision to the blank, judgmental glare of the blank page.

What’s that? Why do I hate drafting so much.

First, it means that I have weeks of planning under my belt that is ultimately going to be ignored by my protagonist when she/he/they decide that they want to take the story in a different direction. When I point to my pre-writing work, they just laugh and laugh. (Little do they realize, I am not above killing them off.)

Which leaves me questioning what the heck is happening now so I can at least pretend what I’m going to end up with looks sorta like a plot and not two ideas that hooked up after an all-night bender and the result is the worst plot baby ever.

And let’s not forget the re-igniting of self-loathing that accompanies that first draft. The one that lulls me into a catatonic state by singing such timeless classics as “You’re a fraud” and “Whoever said you had talent was lying to you.” Oh, and let’s not forget my favorite “You-might-have-been-able-to-fool-people-with-the-first-book-but-they-are-going-to-laugh-you-out-of-the-room-when-they-read-this-sack-of-crap”.

I don’t even know who “they” are, but I know they are buying none of what I’m selling. But you have to do it. Without drafting, there is no revision. Without revision you don’t get to experience that “Oh yeah… that’s why I did that later in the story. I just need to add some foreshadowing and all will witness my brilliance” feeling.

I look at drafting like I would (if I were dumb enough to do it) walking on hot coals: keep my eyes looking straight ahead, take a deep breath and GO! Don’t stop. Just get to the end. You can analyze what it all means later!

Yeah... Sometimes it feels like that, too.

That’s my truth about drafting. Have a different feeling? Do you #LoveFirstDrafts or are you with me on team #DraftingSux? Either way, leave a comment below and let me know. In the meantime, I’ve got some coals to walk on!


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© 2018 by Sarah J. Schmitt.