As writers, we all know that a first draft never goes smoothly. In fact, we generally need to accept that we’ll spend ninety percent of that time wailing about how terrible it is or, when words fail us, simply banging our head against the keyboard in frustration. First drafts are hard, ugly, horrible things and that can be difficult to accept.
This is why some give up on the draft altogether. I know I’ve done that when things got too hard, or my characters put themselves in a stupid, plotless spot and just stood around looking accusingly at me, as though it was somehow my fault.
I’ve been thinking about this whole first draft thing and I’ve come to a conclusion: we are all being far too hard on ourselves. Writing a first draft is like blazing a new trail through the wilderness, forging a new path through lands no-one has ever travelled before. And that’s hard.
All of this is the topic of my latest video on Katie Writes Stuff, which you can watch right now, thanks to the handy little box below.
So next time you’re hating every word you write or wondering why on earth your characters aren’t doing what you want them to, just remember to go a little easy on yourself. Keep on going and leave all of those problems for future you to deal with.
Let’s face it: I’m old-fashioned. I thought I’d better say that straight out, just in case the obsession with knitting and crochet hadn’t been somewhat of a clue.
Let us count the ways…
- I am currently on the look-out for a retro thermos to match the picnic hamper I bought last year, so any future daytripping can be accompanied by appropriate picnicking gear.
- I kind of think I’d like to eat my meals at a proper table instead of in front of the TV, although this dream will have to wait until we have a decent-sized house.
- I’ve started saving jars so I can re-use them. (More on this exciting development soon!)
The thing that’s annoying me of late, however, is all of the stuff that I have. Not only is there far too much of it, there’s a constant pressure to buy more. Already have one of those things? Yeah, but this new version has extra shininess! And why don’t you buy this thing that you’ll only use once but will take up valuable cupboard space for the next ten years.
Everything’s cheap, so it has no value.
My wardrobe, for instance, is packed full of clothes and even though it’s of a modest size, it would stun the average person from the first half of the twentieth century. I’m pretty sure I could wear a different dress for up to three weeks, whereas they’d be lucky to have two for ordinary wear and one for Sunday best.
And then there’s food. A while ago, I read an article where one of the commentators observed that when it comes to buying food, we do so based on price instead of nutrition. It’s true. And I hadn’t realised how ridiculous that was until I saw it in black and white. That cheap, imported food looks like much better value compared with local produce, but is it really? Do we use it all? Or is your fridge like mine in its tendency to build up a collection of half-used tins and forgotten-about packets of food?
So here’s what I want to do.
Firstly, I’m not going stop buying books, because that would be crazy. While I believe it’s possible that I have enough clothes, I know we’re never going to have enough books.
We’re not going to buy more food than we need. More importantly, we’re going to make things from scratch as often as possible – something we’ve already begun with our veggie pies and hand-made pasta. Yes, that’s right: we made our own pasta. I know that’s probably a minor thing to most people, but I thought it was pretty amazing at the time. There’s something rather satisfying about sitting down to a bowl of fettucine and roasted vegetable sauce that you made from scratch. If we could just learn to make our own parmesan, we could lay claim to the entire dish!
I’m going to limit future clothing purchases to bare necessities. Anything else can be made or sought from op shops. At some point in the next fortnight or so, I’m going to go through my wardrobe like a storm front and ruthlessly pull out anything I don’t wear or don’t really like any more and send them all to the clothing donation bin so someone else can appreciate them instead. I have so many nice clothes that it seems a waste to let them hang in my wardrobe, miserable about never seeing the light of day.
I’ve already made a start on pulling out clothes for donation, although I wasn’t nearly as ruthless as I needed to be.
The fact is, I’m sick of being surrounded by things we don’t need or hardly ever use; it just seems so wasteful. This way, I’m hoping we’ll save money, cut down on clutter and fill ourselves with fresh, nutritious food.
What does everyone else do to keep their lives in order? Do you have any plans for big changes this year? Tell me all!
It’s 2014 already and where have I been since Christmas Eve? Geographically, I spent a little while with the parents in Beechworth but for the most part, I’ve been right here at my computer, adding words to various stories, which sounds like a pretty promising start to 2014 to me!
For a little while there, I was also in front of a camera, recording my latest video for my YouTube channel. This one’s all about your approach to writing: what are the benefits and disadvantages with plotting and pantsing it?
And last Saturday, I was in the reading room of the State Library with a handful of other writers, busily tapping away at my keyboard. I managed to write 3,200 words in just two hours (and win myself the goodie bag for being the most productive writer… but only just!). It was quite an amazing experience and it’s convinced me that a regular write-in would be a very good thing indeed for this year’s writing ambitions.
How is 2014 going for everyone else? Have you all made a start on your plans for the year?
Ah, my poor old blog – it has been quite neglected of late. The problem is that I’ve been pouring my words into stories and videos and once that’s all done, there seem to be precious few words left over for the blog. In some ways, that’s a good thing, though! So far this month, I’ve written a smidge over 10,000 words and while that’s not quite comparable to my NaNoWriMo performance, I’m still happy with it. The words have continued, even though November is over.
The videos are continuing, too. My new channel now boasts three whole videos! Here’s the latest one for your enlightenment:
If you’re looking to send a very affordable (nay, free) Christmas present my way, then why not consider subscribing to my channel? It’s easy and, as already mentioned, free! At the very least, it’ll earn you my eternal gratitude and you just never know when that’ll come in handy.
I hope you all have a fantastic festive season!