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Do You Hate The First Draft, Or Love It?

We all have a stereotypical vision of a writer. You know the type: s/he doesn’t manage his or her time properly, so spends too long arsing around on the interwebs; chatting too much on social media, even playing on games sites like … then it’s PANIC STATIONS! S/he ends up overdosing on coffee and staying awake ALL NIGHT to finish those deadlines! And sure, this does happen sometimes, but thankfully not too often.B2W_coffee heartbeat

Now, you might remember that only recently I asked if you Bang2writers like to BINGE on writing, or write every day – and I was surprised with the results. 77% (so far) confessed to being a binge writer!

I’ve been appearing at LOTS of conferences this year for both my book, The Other Twin and writing events like London Screenwriters’ Festival, so I decided to ask whether writers there are ‘bingers’ like me or more disciplined and write every day. I found the answers broadly echoed what we discovered for the blog post, which was interesting. Given that ‘write every day’ is such standard advice, I’d envisaged far more writers doing this, so I now don’t feel so guilty about my binges! YAY!

Another big divide

However, during my querying, I happened upon something else interesting. It appears there are TWO MORE approaches that divide writers:

  • Those that LOVE the first draft. These writers will often say they feel ‘anything is possible’ and it’s the ‘best bit’ of writing. They may confess to hating the rewrite/editing process, likening it to an ‘uphill slog’.
  • Those that HATE the first draft. These writers may call the first draft a ‘rush draft’ or even a ‘vomit draft’ – they might confess they would FAR much rather get the bones of the story down, then tinker about with it, re-structuring and tweaking; combining and merging characters at will.

Screenwriters Versus Novelists?

Since a screenwriting adage is ‘writing is rewriting, I do wonder if First Draft Haters are more commonly screenwriters? I’ve even heard of big names like Charlie Kauffman admit it’s a struggle.

This makes sense I think. Structure is SO important in this medium – it’s not a good idea to start a script without knowing the ending, for starters! On this basis, maybe REWRITING feels much more like progress, because we have created the perimeters of what we’re working on? ‘You can’t fix a blank page’, after all!

In comparison (from my limited, anecdotal research) it would seem novelists are more likely to say they LOVE the first draft. Again, I would argue this makes sense. Though obviously structure is important in ALL storytelling, novel writing is much more ‘free’ in terms of style and format. Whilst B2W always recommends planning in advance, plenty of novelists are ‘pantsers’ – those who don’t plan (hence ‘by the seat of their pants’). It’s also possible to not know the ending in advance of writing a novel, whereas this is nearly always a disaster in screenwriting.

Of course, there will always be exceptions. I am a novel-writing screenwriter (or a screenwriting novelist?) and always plan my books like my screenplays. Predictably, I LOATHE the first draft.  I find writing my first drafts absolutely EXCRUCIATING … Every page is a struggle!!

What about you?

As before, I’ve created a badge for you to download and share on your social media if you wish. You can also add your vote to the poll and/or share your thoughts in the comments section. Over to you!

Download the HATE badge, HERE

Download the LOVE badge, HERE

Take The Poll …

Can’t see the poll? CLICK HERE.

Happy Writing!

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