October 19, 2010

The Joy of…Drafting

Osprey's Flight

Most of my past year has been spent editing and revising, but for the past two days, I’ve been able to write fresh stuff for a shiny new project.  Oh, drafting, how I love thee.

Really, is there anything more freeing than starting with a newborn idea and exploring?  Every scene, every line, every character’s reaction is a discovery.  Everything is sparkling and new.

This isn’t a post about plotting vs. pantsing, but I’ll just mention that I’m somewhere in the middle of those two approaches to writing.  I have a general idea of the plot and story arc, but what happens within scene is a complete mystery to me until I start writing it.  So when I write a scene, I have to listen to my characters to figure out what’s going to happen.

Some may find the blank page intimidating.  Not me.  All that white space lets me more easily visualize that movie in my mind that my muse is creating.  I often feel more like the person taking dictation from my muse than the actual author of these stories.  The next morning, I’ll reread what I wrote and think, “I wrote that?  I don’t remember writing that.”  (You have to imagine that in an impressed voice and not the horrified kind of voice that follows drunk texting.)

But that’s why I love drafting.  It’s when I feel closest to my muse.  It’s when I can take risks with my writing and see where they lead.  It’s when I feel most in touch with my dreams.

That freedom of drafting is why many of us choose to write.  It might be the hard work of editing that separates the hobby writers from those who want to make it their career, but how many of us started writing because we just couldn’t wait to revise our work?  None.  I thought so.

For me, drafting is like the initial excitement when you start a new relationship.  There’s no baggage, no exes or in-laws to worry about, no socks left on the floor to ratchet up your pet peeve meter.  It’s more like when you first stay up until 4am talking because you suddenly want to know everything there is to know about this person and want to hear their entire life history.  And no matter how mundane or trivial the information, it’s all fascinating.

So I’ll get back to the work of editing soon.  But for now, I’m enjoying the lust of this new relationship—and the rush of drafting.

Does drafting thrill or terrify you?  What are your favorite things about drafting?  What are your least favorite things about drafting?

Comments — What do you think?

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Karen Hooper

I’m not an outliner, but I do love working on bright and shiny new ideas. I love your new relationship analogy because it’s so true. Have fun with your new project! 🙂


Drafting thrills me… up until 20K words. Around then I freak out that 1) it all sucks 2) it’ll never be long enough 3) it’s boring and 4) I’ll never finish it.

Fresh new ideas are amazing but at a certain point you have to roll up your sleeves and do the work of writing. I think that’s the part where most works fail: the difference between scribbling out ideas and making a coherent story out of them.

Suzi McGowen

I love researching the story for world building. I love how the research leads to discovery of plot ideas. I love outlining and how it helps me to discover scenes. I love the first draft.

And yes, I think revisions are the line that split writers from authors. But I’ve been known to use the lure of research for a new work to get me through a day’s revisions.


LOL I had to tease Jami on this subject via twitter. I KNOW her idea of drafting and mine aren’t quite the same thing. She’s way too much of a perfectionist LOL I’m so pantster but I love the way a character will unfold. In one story, a character, who hadn’t even been a glimmer in the eye to begin withjust showed up. Wouldn’t tell me who he was or why or where he came from. I (and my lead POV character!) were not allowed to see his face. It was always shadowed. That’s the part of first, or rather I call them rough, draft’s thrill. I’m laughing now imagining Jami’s conternation at having a character do that to her. *blows kisses* Love you Jami 😀 Anyway, the first draft goes so fast for me (unless LIFE gets in the way. You want an example? How about moving to Texas? LOL then moving back? PS I’m from WA? LOL) that it’s like a love at first sight then never seen again rush for me. The editing part takes a long time for me, however. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. *shhh don’t tell anyone, but I’m as much of a perfectionist as Jami is* Yikes! Did I type that out loud? See, I’ve learned to turn off that inner editor for the first couple of drafts. (Mostly. I admit, I do stop and fix things occassionally as I cannot stand the redlines of Microsoft Word gloating…  — Read More »

Christine Bell
Christine Bell

What is this “drafting” of which you speak?
Seriously though, I love the idea of it. I just can’t DO it. I write a line, then rewrite it, then delete it and rewrite it again. There is no page of fresh material. You can pretty much assume that a page of my first draft doesn’t have more than a handful of sentences on it that I haven’t picked to death before turning the page and starting a new one. Lather, rinse, repeat, every time I open it. Nutso, right? And I know it doesn’t sound very fun or creative. But I get great satisfaction out of finding that perfect word. “salty”? no. *grumble* delete. “damp”? no. delete. “brackish.” AH, yes, BRACKISH! *self high five*
Christine <———— total geek


I’m with Christine on this one. I need the right word, otherwise I just can’t continue on until something clicks.

Great post! 🙂


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