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A crappy first draft

June 5, 2012

Well I did it. I broke 10,000 words this afternoon. I have to say it feels pretty good to be at this point. I am actually only about a day ahead in terms of daily progress goals but it feels good to be around 1/5th of the way done. I am settling into a little routine which has helped to keep me going. I am still really enjoying the contest, but I do see how easy it would be to give up at points. There are times when I have to push myself to go sit at the keyboard and start writing. I am still struggling with the desire to go back and edit portions but I have resisted for the most part. There was one area that didn’t exactly make sense and in order to not derail the entire work I went back and changed it slightly, but it actually ended up adding more words than the previous set up so that was a win.

It’s weird to think that in less than a week I have written 10,000 words of my first novel (I can’t help it I love seeing that number 10,000 even now I am chuckling to myself about it.) I have never written this much on a piece of fiction. I think this contest was a good kick in the pants to get started on writing. I can feel myself starting to get into the thick of the story really dig deep and draw on my imagination for inspiration. It has forced me to turn off that internal critic and just focus on getting the words on paper (which is the point of the contest) but I never realized how much I let that voice control what I wrote.

I usually put off writing until it was almost too late, because I listened to that critic. It is actually kind of liberating to be writing at such a quick pace (again part of the point of the contest) it allows me to take risks I may not other wise, it forces my hand in a few scenes where I wouldn’t have felt the courage to write it the way I wanted. I have been so worried about it being perfect that I wouldn’t even let myself try. The fear of failing would keep me from even starting I have a bulletin board up in my desk space and on it a made a  little sign, “everyone writes a crappy first draft.” I didn’t write to be negative and say everything I write is crap, it was more of an inspiration that even if it does suck, it’s a part of the process. I am starting to appreciate that sentiment even more. It has been good to know that this doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s as though I am giving myself permission to throw myself into the writing and when it’s all said and done I can see what if anything sticks.

I did falter a bit yesterday, I made my word count goal but barely and I had a hard punch in the gut when I was on the phone with my mom last night. She called to check in and asked about the move. I was updating her and then I was asked the dreaded question, “Are you looking for a job?” I wasn’t sure exactly how to respond, I haven’t told a ton of people in my personal life that I am going to try my hand at writing. The stigma associated with it (i.e. writing= unemployed, lost, confused, or wasting time) hasn’t seemed worth telling tons of people. I did try to tell her I was writing, and her response was exactly what I fear people will say when I tell them I am writing, “oh, so you are taking up a hobby to keep yourself from being bored.” I didn’t know what to say to that, it felt like a slap in the face. I know she didn’t mean it that way, it just is difficult to know what to say to that, because the truth is I am not making money and so I don’t feel like I can say it’s my job.

Have you ever felt that way about writing? How do/did you handle it? How about the internal critic any particular methods you use to ignore it? Please share in the comments below.


  1. That internal critic can be friend or enemy. Sometimes I tell him to take a nap and promise to let him out of the box later.

    • Carl, thanks for your humor, it always makes me smile. I agree there are times when you just have to push that little critic out of they way to get anywhere. Thanks again.

  2. I understand perfectly. I’ve been there. I’m still there 🙂 How I handled it … I just stopped telling people that I was writing. If I did mention it I made sure it was in passing and that the conversation quickly moved on to other things. I wish I could say I was more … confrontational (If that’s the right word to use). But writing is different from having a “day job.” You are in your head a lot. And where your head is affects how and what you write. So, I’d suggest handling it whatever way protects your head and heart. The bottom line is you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Don’t let them make you feel like you do. Hope that helps 🙂

    • This is really good advice. I think you nailed it on the head in terms of writing being in your head a lot, sometimes it’s easy to forget that. Thank you!

  3. Congratulations on your first 10,000!!

    I can’t say I felt that way about writing…maybe knitting. I think I have felt that folks are waiting for me to get over the spinning and the kniting and crafting…But, I’m at a point where If it’s making me happy and I’m keeping my responsibilities to my family in check, it doesn’t matter what they think. I need those things for me.

    Besides, if you don’t try, who are you going to eventually resent for that when you’re the one making the choices, right? I mean, you can’t neglect your bills. But, you have to do what you do. Writers write.

    Well, my two cents is on the counter. 🙂

  4. Congrats on your hard work! Keep it up!

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