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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Fast and Furious First Draft: WL 366 (#11)

Lesson 11: Use a fast and furious approach when writing your first draft.

When you think of writing your first draft, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Is it something akin to the angelic choirs of heaven drawing you into paradise, or is it more like the demonic headbangers of hell dragging you over shards of glass as you struggle to breathe life into every word?

Most writers have an extreme like or an extreme dislike for this part of the writing process. There's rarely an in-between.

The first draft has more power over you than any other draft. Its completion clears the road for your success. It's lack of completion--that first draft that you've been on-again, off-again working on for the last ten years--well, please don't hate me, but that's a big fat fail. If you've been working on the thing for ten years, then chances are you aren't in love with your story. Finish it, or break up with it and move on.

Creating something from nothing is hard work, and that's what draft one is all about; creating a story and characters where none existed before. For me, that's the hard part. It's the place where I'm most likely to fail if I don't shift it into high gear and force the pedal to the floor.

Once I reach the first-draft finish line, I program my GPS, shift it into low gear, and set the cruise at a steady but comfortable speed. My destination now certain.

I love love love--no, lust lust lust--the revision process. Draft two, draft three, draft four--the mere mention of them is like a hot, sexy kiss that makes my toes curl. I'll share more about revision drafts in a later post--and maybe even hot, sexy kisses if I'm in the mood.

So, here's the key to the first draft: write it fast and write it furious. Don't analyze it. It's your brain dump, just get it out of your head and onto your paper. You can clean it all up and shift all the puzzle pieces around once the framework is done.

Write untamed. Write with abandon. Write uninhibited. Write rebelliously. Write uncensored. Write as if every crazy idea you have is completely plausible. No one is going to see your first draft but you, so remove every filter and race to the finish line.

Because once you reach the first-draft finish line, a victorious future awaits.

Every writer should have their own first-draft finish-line goal. If I write three hours per day, I should be able to complete the first draft of a three hundred-page manuscript in three months or less (my first-draft theory of threes). What's your finish-line goal? 

Visit me tomorrow for another Writer's Leap 366 lesson.


  1. Abby Fowers said...

    Okay - I think I'm in love. This post is awesome and I love that you use your writing skills - even in your posts! Fabulous information here. Fast and Furious is RIGHT! Thanks for stopping by my blog. So glad I was able to be over to yours. I'm a new follower and I'll be back for more!

  2. Deana said...

    I'm another one IN LOVE with the revision process! I swear you described my thoughts to a tee!

    Awesome blog:)

  3. Angela Cothran said...

    Great post Karen. It's a great reminder for me. With NaNo I feel like I am just writing junk. I can't wait to revise it.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today :)

  4. i'm erin. said...

    So usually I'm not the fast and furious type. But today I have been. And I kind of like it! It's pretty awesome.