When people find out that I’m a writer, they often ask what I’m working on. If I’m in the throes of a first draft, I’ll mumble something about not liking to talk about my work. It’s hard to explain, but I have found from experience that if I talk about a project before a first draft has been completed, I run the risk of not completing it. It’s as if talking about it removes the need to write about it.
It’s not an unusual concept. One of the reasons that artists create works of art is because it is a way that they can articulate an idea or feeling they have. If you can talk about it, then what is the need to express it through art? It’s as if you have sucked out the magic from the piece.
After I have a first draft done, I don’t mind talking about it. Because the piece is now a thing. It exists. It has form. It may not have reached its final form and there may be a lot of work (rewriting) ahead to get it to the form it needs, but it has been birthed.
It’s as if the first draft is really part of the gestation process and if you talk about your piece too soon, you run the risk of miscarrying. Once the first draft is done, it’s only a matter of refining and adding. Of course, when I say “only” I don’t mean to diminish the next process. It’s similar to the development of a child. After they’re born, there’s years of development before they become an adult; but without the birth, there is no child and no adult.
Similarly, although it may seem as if most of the work is spent doing the rewriting, without the first draft, there is no play. So, it is very important to get to that first draft. Duh, I know.
But how many false starts have you had on the stories that you’ve written? Do you get started but then after talking about it to someone, find that you have run out of steam?
Keep the details of your first draft to yourself. Don’t talk about a piece until you have a first draft done. If someone asks what you are working on, tell them you’re fleshing out an idea, but you’re not really sure where it is going yet.
If you need to talk it out, talk it out on paper. This is the part of the magic. Get that first draft done on your own. The first draft is the time to make your mistakes and flounder. You don’t know what you are giving birth to, but it’s exciting to find out.
Once the first draft is done, the magic has happened. Now it’s time to start the hard work. But don’t forget to pass out the cigars and celebrate!
By the way, Day 9 of WAPAD and I moved up to a half page of script writing a day yesterday. Hey, my daily writing has doubled. Yay!