Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WIPW: The Role of the Rough Draft

It's WIP Wednesday!

I have previously discussed (whined) about all the trouble I've been having with this WIP I'm currently working on.

Aside: I think this book needs a working title. I mean, it has a working title, but not one that I want to share. It's nothing naughty--don't think that! It's just boring. And this book is anything but boring, so it needs a fun title! Something random. Thoughts? Hmmm. * ponders *

ANYWAY the WIP isn't giving me fits any more. I feel downright calm about it. This magical transformation of attitude occurred after I realized something pretty imporant.

(Disheartening, but important.)

Sometimes rough drafts are just for practice.

Oh, my soul bleeds at that thought!That is a terrifying thing to contemplate. Ugh. I don't even like reading that sentence.

But it's true.

I really was dragged into this realization kicking and screaming, but once I warmed to it I found that it was comforting. Of course, all rough drafts don't have to be thrown away. The previous 2 MSS I've completed were acceptable after heavy editing and required no total rewrite. HOWEVER, every book is different.

Sometimes, you have to write to figure out what you want to write. Sometimes you have to write the book to understand the characters.

And then you have to start over.

Now, I'm not so willing to martyr the book yet. When I'm done, I'll take a good long look at it and determine if I can get away with just a really vicious edit. Maybe it can be done. I certainly hope so, anyway.

I say all that to say this. If you are despairing at the state of your current project, or if you think it's horrible and rambling and going nowhere, don't stress so much about it. Even if you have to throw it away and start again, you aren't wasting your time. If you write all that and discover your book really is about something else entirely--take heart. It's part of the journey. Sometimes you have to write it to know that it's wrong.

"I rewrote the ending of 'Farewell to Arms' 39 times before I was satisfied."- Ernest Hemingway

What he said ;-)


  1. That's very true. For my current WIP rough draft, I can think of two things that are practice. We'll see how they work. If they're awkward, I'm taking them out of the game.

  2. I just read a really amazing essay by Anne Lamott that talks about this same thing ... right after I wrote this post. Destiny.


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