The Shitty First Draft

My initial goal for the month of November, my first “someday”, and the WNFIN challenge, was to write and e-publish a non-fiction book in 30 days.  Now, one week before the end of 30 days, I’ve revised my goal.  Instead of getting the book all the way through publication, I am now aiming at completing the “Shitty First Draft”.  This is quite a shortfall from where I had hoped to be, but I’m okay with the adjustment.  Writing the book has been much more challenging than I expected.  The length alone makes it a totally different type of writing style than what I have been accustomed to.  Then there’s the storytelling aspect – again, quite different.  I have gone from believing I’d write straight through from the Introduction to the final chapter, to writing a hodgepodge of ideas and stories that are only partly related to my initial outline.  Hence, the Shitty First Draft.

In Bird by Bird Anne Lamont urges writers to embrace the shitty first draft claiming it can lead to clarity and even brilliance in the second and third drafts.  Ernest Hemingway claimed, “The first draft of anything is shit.”  Instead of letting my perfectionism and ego rule how I feel about the shortfall of my goal this first month, I’m going to look at this experience and know I’m in good company.  However, I’m not going to say I’ll finish the book Someday – that would be counterintuitive to the point of my 366 Somedays challenge.  Instead, I will commit that it will be done by Day 366 – hopefully significantly sooner.  On to the second draft…

“Writing is an adventure.”

–Winston Churchill

5 thoughts on “The Shitty First Draft

  1. Lol. A funny but apt title to today’s post. At first I thought it was spam and was going to delete it until I saw it was from you! I know you will finish your book. It’s good to revise and set up shorter goals. Let go of perfectionism.

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  2. Writing a book in a month seemed an extraordinary task. Writing a first draft in 30 days is an awesome achievement – success!! Yesterday I realized I am nearly finished listening to the 5th book in George RR Martin’s Fire and Ice series – and the publication date for book 6 is nowhere in sight – I am bummed. Have to find something else to listen to as a wrack up my 25 miles/week (thanks for that inspiration, by the way)!

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  3. Hang in there, Debbie. There’s no such thing as a shitty first draft: it’s just part of a work in progress, How else should you begin, anyways?!

    I’m into issues of voice and characters these days. I have a draft in which everyone speaks in their own voice chapter by chapter. But I’m not sure what I want to do. Now I’m leaning toward a third person narrator, which still doesn’t sit right. And, when it came to describing the characters, I find that I’m too ‘clinical,’ so I searched Google images for pictures of people who could be my characters, and now I’m working on how to integrate physical appearance, mannerisms, speech, etc.

    What a fun adventure for me! But by no means will I complete the story within the next month or two . . .

    So, hang in there!

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