This month I am doing Camp Nanowrimo. It is a ton of fun, but it also involved writing around 1700 words a day (for me) to reach a goal of 50,000 words at the end of the month. And yes, I know that 31 x 1700 does not equal 50,000– I am taking into account several days which I am missing.
Naturally, this results in writing which just plain sucks (take this post for example!) Some of the paragraphs I write make me shudder. Ugh. Some of the scenes I am writing are cringe worthy. Ugh. Some of the sentences which I type out should never see the light of day. Ugh. And don’t even talk to me about plot.
I’m a perfectionist. I like good writing. Not stuff which sounds like a three year old writing bad romance. I love beautiful writing like Mary Shelley’s and intelligent and relatable writing like C. S. Lewis’. Also it probably isn’t helping that I have been micro-editing a novel for over a year and have not written a first draft in over three years. The struggle is real.
I also love how my writing looks when I spend hours perfect each sentence. I get beautiful master pieces like this:
Like black feathers from a fallen eagle which once soared as king of the skies, the ashes floated down on the breeze, scattered across the green field which stretched out below. As the soft flakes were gently taken from my open hands, I stood on top of the Golden Fort’s outer wall, far above the Coralean fields which were flourishing under spring’s reign. Covered in thick, soft, and short grass and flowers which danced in the breeze, the lush hills were now tainted with the black of ash.
But right now, I am writing junk like this:
“This is a sword!” Amets beamed as he waved about a short gladius in front of Raewas’ face. For once, Raewas remained silent; his eyes were blank, and his face was sweaty. Of the whole group, Amets was the only one enjoying himself; the rest of us were leaning against the wall and wishing that we could lie down and rest.
Moistening my lips, I took a deep breath, refastened my real sword on my hip, and began to jog back inside the fort. As I drew near the stone walls, I heard the noise of stones scattering under Raewas’ footsteps. Once I entered under the shadowy arch which marked the entrance to the wandering hallways, I paused, catching my breath again. No doubt Perehdur would be in the infirmity, but where was that? The castle at Flame Lake and Aralt’s castle in Gadolae’ both had the infirmity near the center of the fort and west of the throne room. Of course, the Golden Fort is different since they have the Inner Courts at the very center. Perhaps, I’ll head to the western wing of the middle circle of buildings.
Ugh. Don’t even talk to me. I can barely read that– and I have already fixed all of the misspellings in the later paragraphs. All I want to do is delete my entire document.
How can this rotten writing turn into anything good? Am I accomplishing anything at all?
The unfortunate reality is that writing fast and writing crap (pardon my crudeness) is useful and good. How can you edit anything if you don’t have a first draft?
Sure, your first draft is full of grammatical errors– some sentences won’t even be recognizable. You will read over painful descriptions and terrible dialogue. As you write it, you will think it is horrendous, and when you read back over it later, you will wince and know that it is even worse than you first thought.
But if you wait, if you take your time, if you procrastinate and edit your old work once again, then you will never make progress. Sure it is painful and required discipline, but we writers know plenty of pain and discipline.
As writing, we kill our favorite characters. We purposely break our favorite characters. We separate best friends, families, and lovers in our stories. We have the strength and discipline. We can do this, too.
So toughen up and write that terrible first draft, and don’t look back. Just don’t read what you wrote until you are finished with your whole first draft. Don’t look back.
So are you writing junk, right now? Care to share the worst bits that you have written 😛 Or are you one of the lucky ones who is in the midst of editing?