Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper.
~~ Anne Lamott
…I’d write a first draft that was maybe twice as long as it should be, with a self-indulgent and boring beginning, stupefying descriptions of the meal, lots of quotes from my black-humored friends that made them sound more like the Manson girls than food lovers, and no ending to speak of. The whole thing would be so long and incoherent and hideous that for the rest of the day I’d obsess about getting creamed by a car before I could write a decent second draft. I’d worry people would read what I’d written and believe that the accident had really been a suicide, that I had panicked because my talent was waning and my mind was shot.
The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wanted to say, “Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?”, you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go — but there is no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.
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