Tuesday Tip: Remember, it’s called a rough draft for a reason

I’m going back through the second draft of my WIP novel, checking for places where I have to drop things in. Most of these are little things, like another mention of a physical object that figures in the plot (in this case, a necklace), or pumping up a description that didn’t get fully mounted on the page.

But in one instance, I have a whole chapter to drop in. (Because, um, it features an important character that I failed to show anywhere in the novel. Duh.)

So this means I am writing rough draft material again for the first time in a couple of months. I’ve been rewriting and editing and getting the draft ready for beta readers. (Soon!)

And this morning I found myself laboring over every word.

WTF! I know better than this.  A rough draft is just that–the draft of a chapter or story or essay that is in its rough stages.  And just because the rest of my novel is almost ready for other eyes, doesn’t mean that this chapter needs to be.

I had to remind myself to just put the words on the page.  Let them rip. Write fast. Don’t worry about how “good” the words are once they land. Just get the damned thing written!

And that is my Tuesday tip for you–let the writing of your rough draft stink. Make it awful. Require it to be. Because once you’ve gotten those words on the page, you’ve got treasure with which to work.  You can rewrite and revise and edit to your heart’s content.  But not yet.

Remember there’s a reason it is called a rough draft and let it be, well…rough.

The China Cabinet Syndrome

A couple weeks ago my dining room table was covered with china, cut glass, pitchers, and an odd assortment of knick-knacks.  This was all stuff brought over from my Mom's house, which we were cleaning out before an estate sale.

I was really happy with all the things I'd claimed but the problem was that I needed to find room for them in my china cabinets.  A quick glance at the already bulging cabinets let me know that finding room was going to be quite the chore.  So I procrastinated.

I'd walk through the dining room, pause, look at the table, look at the china cabinets, and not see any way to make this happen.  It was going to take a massive reorganization and I simply didn't know where to begin.  So I procrastinated more.

Finally, as is so often the case, I was backed up against the wall.  We were having people over for dinner and so I absolutely had to get the china put away.  I opened the cabinet door and figured out a plan of action.  But then a funny thing happened.  Once I started working and putting the china away, I realized that my plan wasn't going to work after all.  However, by then it didn't matter because another, better, plan, revealed itself to me.  And all the china got put away with relative ease.

As I arranged tea cups and stacked plates, I thought about how often this happens in writing.  You start out desirous of writing something–a novel, an essay, a short story–but don't know how to begin.   You finally come up with a plan of action, and then you labor under the delusion that you will actually follow that plan.  But once you get going on the work, once you are in the china cabinet, so to speak, you realize that the writing wants to go a completely different way.

But here's the key: you would never have found that way if you hadn't just waded in.  Found a place to start and began.  My dining room table would still be covered with china if I hadn't begun following my initial plan of action.  Many a piece of writing would still be left unwritten if we all waited for the grand plan to reveal itself.

So remember the China Cabinet Syndrome and plunge in.  You'll find room in that cabinet for everything you need.