The first draft must be one of the most groaned-about aspects of writing among my clients. Blank page dread, and lurching between perceptions of the work as utter junk or unparalleled original brilliance.
I'd like to share a few first draft first-aid techniques that have prompted quite astonishing energy surges, increased wordflow - and even the odd expletive! - from some of my beautiful writer clients (“F..k, these conversations are amazing!!" was one response from a Sanctuary Virtual Retreat* client this week).
I'll explain more about what's involved in these steps in coming posts, including direct examples of how clients have used them. While every writer’s process is unique, I have seen these same techniques work remarkably well for many different kinds of writers.
For now, here are eight steps for first draft first aid:
1) Identify and clearly delineate in your mind each stage of writing, even if you have no idea of the story yet. This may seem obvious, but lack of clarity is linked to many writerly problems including inertia, a sense of hopelessness and chronic distractibility.
2) Work out the specific purpose of each stage, using language that means something to you.
3) Define a mood, energy, attitude or culture you'd like to create for yourself as writer in each of the stages.
4) Identify the role for the writer in each stage, linked directly to its purpose. This is where it gets really interesting, fun and sometimes, according to novelist Charlotte Wood, ‘quite weird’.**
5) Create a detailed 'job description' to suit the specific requirements of the writer's role at each stage. This can be interesting, amusing, and again, sometimes ‘quite weird’!
6) Create an ideal state from which each of these players will operate at their best. Takes a little practice and guidance.
7) Describe and understand the ways that the different players in this writing process will work together. Create 'rules' for what must and must not happen.
8) Create a metaphor that serves to describe and maintain the particular state or frames of mind that will best serve you as writer in the various stages.
For more information about Sanctuary Virtual Retreat options, or other A Mind of One's Own services, please visit http://www.amindofonesown.com/services.html
**Australian author Charlotte Wood describes some of the effects of this process on her approaches to her current writing project in A Mind of One's Own Conversations with Charlotte Wood series available here: http://www.amindofonesown.com/products.html
© A Mind of One's Own February 2014