Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Taking your own advice

People sometimes ask me for writing advice. And I'm happy to give it, for what it's worth. I've always been all, 'Hey! Don't worry about your first draft being crappy. All first drafts are crappy. Power on through to the end and worry about fixing stuff later. That's what the second draft is for!' Pretty decent, not-at-all-grounbreaking advice, wouldn't you agree?

But yesterday I realized I haven't exactly been practising what I preach. I've been lucky, in that the first drafts for my first two books were not crappy (and I do put this down to luck). I didn't have to rewrite whole chunks/excise characters who weren't pulling their weight/throw massive swathes of text out the window. Like I said, LUCKY. So it was all very easy for me to tell people not to worry about things like that during the first draft, because I hadn't had to do it. Ever.

Things are a little bit different with New Top Sekrit Project. I am writing so far outside my comfort zone that I can't even see my comfort zone (not even with binoculars). And it's fun and scary and HAAAAAARD. I'm 13k in and already I can tell that so many things are going to have to change in the second draft, and that the second draft is going to involve a hell of a lot of thinking. Trouble is, thinking hurts my brain (much in the same way that coming up with titles hurts my brain... Clearly my brain is very sensitive). The temptation to try to sort things out now is proving very, very hard to resist. But if I do that, there's a strong possibility that the amount of work that needs to be done will scare me silly and I'll end up not bothering to finish the book. And that would make me a quitter. (Actually, I've always been a bit of a quitter in other areas of my life, but not in writing. Not yet. And I don't intend to start now.)

So... I'm taking my own advice. Powering through the first draft. Not looking back over my shoulder. Ignoring the bits that stink worse than bin juice. It's kind of frightening.

Have you ever given advice and then realized that YOU'RE the one who should be listening to it? Makes you feel a bit stupid, no?


  1. I try to give myself advice all the time.
    I'm the only one who hears my advice! (nobody asks me for it normally) But rarely am I the one to heed it!

  2. Ah yes but then there is the whole 'do as I say, not as I do' philosophy...

  3. I think everyone does this Cat, don't beat yourself up over it :)

  4. Yes, that happens to me. Don't worry. I mean, you'll get used to it :) All successful writers go through that stage when they think their writing is crappy and just KNOW that they're going to have to fix it. You're not alone :)

  5. Well, I'm taking your advice RIGHT NOW.

    Thank you, Cat!

  6. Thanks for the reassurance, lovelies!