You completed a draft of some thing that only existed in your head. Now, you have to go through the process of (gasp!) EDITING.
I know, I know. This sounds scary, it sounds intimidating, but this is good thing! Since you have committed to finishing this work, you can either change, put in, or expand. But for this portion, this is what I call The Once Over.
During The Once Over, you just do two thing: celebrate and step away. You take the time to celebrate and enjoy the fact that you wrote something. That you–yes, YOU–wrote something. Before making any changes to a work, celebrate that you wrote it first!
As we move through this Book In A Year series, for the month of July (Month 7), we getting into why revisions are important. For that reason, I need to bring a book into this conversation. On Writing is a book I highly recommend by Stephen King. This book is one-third autobiography, one third technical manual, and one-third recovery manual for the writer who lost their way.
This book was given to me by my younger sister in 2003, and I have treasured it ever since. There will be some ideas the King references here that I will refer to as well through this series–especially the term ‘murder your darlings’. This book is a lantern and a light switch! Be aware that writers need both. Who better to give this than one known for making people sleep with the light on?
You did a thing! You can say that you completed the first draft of something that was special to you! Something that was only in your head, you now have in your hand. You committed to a process word for word. And that is to be celebrated! Now that you have this, I want you to take a deep breath (or a glass of wine). Several, if you can (this goes for wine too)!
But the most important thing is that you have finished! You’ve completed the thing that you set out to do, that most people stop doing because they get scared in the middle. Kudos to you for not being stuck in the middle; or if you were you kept going. Now let’s keep the same energy going into the next month when we discuss why rewrites and revisions are important. Come on! There’s more to do.
Do not be so arrogant to think that all that may come to you through the ether of imagination, you will hold on to without writing it down. Don’t be the writer who loses ideas because they refused to write them down.
For all the writing coaching that I do, there is one consistent thing that I have seen across all of my clients: fear of getting stuck in the middle of a draft. This getting stuck is indicative of a greater problem! Yet, these problems are why I am a writing coach.
Getting stuck, that feeling of not being able to write, is one of most common reason I see writers quit. This is different than writers’ block! This is being unsure of what to do next–being stuck!–is different than not being able to write! Being stuck is anxiety-inducing, and it will make you give up.
YET–there is a way to combat it. You have to write through it. The only way to get unstuck, is to get unstuck! Don’t quit in the middle because it is hard! There are three ways to get unstuck:
1.) Take a break. Walk away from the draft for 30-90 days. Sometimes you have to give space between you and the work. That may be all you need–sometimes you need to see forest AND trees.
2.) Get a new set of eyes. It is always good to someone to look over your work and offer feedback. It might even help brainstorm!
3.) A spaced-out read through. Give yourself about a week from what your current project. After that week (or no more than a month), read through what you have. And write. Even if it is one or two pages.