R is for Roughdraft


by Lillian Csernica on April 19, 2013

So you wanna write a novel. Fifty thousand to one hundred thousand words. Two hundred to four hundred pages. That’s a serious mental marathon. How do you train for it? How do you build up the stamina, the will power, the sheer endurance to live through every single day it’s going to take you to get to that final draft? That final, polished, perfect manuscript?

Don’t worry about it. Don’t even waste energy asking the questions.

The roughdraft is exactly that. The rough, messy, incomplete, scribbled-on first version of your story. This is where you let yourself go wild. Push it as hard and as far as you can. Throw in anything and everything that sounds good at the moment you’re writing. You’re riding that wild stallion called Creativity. Keep a light hand on the reins and just go where it takes you.

You’ve got the idea. You’ve got the plot, or at least part of it. You’ve got characters. Most of all, you’ve got the excitement. That’s where you start. Writing isn’t a linear process, not for most of the writers I know. You don’t just go from Page One straight through to The End.  Start where the passion is, where you see and feel and hear the story coming alive.

I once had a little note stuck to the side of my keyboard. On it I’d copied a quotation: “You have to write SOMETHING before you can write something GOOD.” Give yourself permission to be that kindergartener discovering fingerpaints. Feel free to color outside the lines. You’re creating something new!  That’s an organic process. Just like all the messes we made when we were little kids, we can go back and clean it up later, right?

Enjoy the ride. 

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10 Comments

Filed under Blog challenges, fantasy, Fiction, Writing

10 responses to “R is for Roughdraft

  1. Hello, Lillian! You are so right! This is a great quote that goes along with your post: “If you don’t allow yourself the possibility of writing something very, very bad, it would be hard to write something very good.” ~Steven Galloway

    Here are more quotes like that if you’re interested: http://lauramarcella.blogspot.com/2012/04/g-is-for-greatness.html?m=0

    Thanks for the encouragement! Happy writing!!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  2. When I first started writing it was so easy to get that first draft out. I didn’t worry about editing until later. Now that I know more, I struggle a bit to turn off my inner editor, but eventually I manage.

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    • It’s odd how it gets harder, isn’t it? The more experience you accumulate, the more techniques you know, the more choices you have, so blazing along on the intuitional level isn’t as easy because there are more options available!

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  3. I’m not a writer, but a hobby photographer. The same principals can be applied with my work…shoot every angle and different settings. Don’t be afraid to play around with a shot. I can go back and pick the one I’ll work with and perfect it, my way, later. Great advise, and great ‘R’ word.
    Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

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    • Hello, Kathy! Thank you for your comment!
      Digital technology must have made photography even more amazing than it already is. These days you can capture an image and make all sorts of adjustments and arrangements!

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  4. Wonderful choice of topic from R. People are always so hell bent on having their rough draft made so perfect that they forget the entire purpose of writing a rough manuscript in the first place.

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  5. I just finished the first draft of 92,000 words. It was a roller-coaster ride!

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