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  • Marisa Wolf

Messy messy messiness


A part of Angel Oak, 400+ year old oak tree that grows however the heck it wants

There is a heck of a lot of writing advice out there, and most of it conflicts. The best writing advice is the advice that works for you - your process, your needs, etc.


The best piece of advice that I've ever scavenged has been hard for me to put into place over the years. Basically it goes like this: "The point of the first draft isn't to be perfect. The point of the first draft is to be written."


It goes along with gems like (paraphrased a bit) 'you can edit a hot garbage fire of a first draft. You can't edit a blank page' and 'the first draft is to get your story figured out. the second draft is to make it look like you meant it all along.'


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Brilliant, compelling, real advice. I loved it the moment I read it...and have had a heck of a time putting it into practice. I edit as I write, I overthink, I get stuck on parts and have to leave them and come back... I know, conceptually, that the first draft can be a mess, but whew do I pick at it and make it cleaner and end up taking forever along the way.


Until...now. I've written over 60,000 words since November 1st, and my first draft is currently a very, very, VERY first draft.

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And it's so freeing! I'm writing parts and going 'oh!! that's why that happened!' and popping a comment back earlier to strengthen for Draft 2 (draft two: less garbage fire boogaloo, coming soon to a computer near me!). The story is coming together exactly how I hoped...and it will likely take me an entire month to edit it into shape.


But progress has progressed just about every day - and it's because I'm (mostly) shushing that voice in my head that is all critic all the time. "It's meant to be a mess at this point," is basically my mantra.


I mean, some edits are definitely still happening along the way. For instance, I popped into an earlier part of the story to check something, and found an entire chunk of a chapter that had randomly switched to first person -- no rhyme, reason, or warning -- and then back to third. I for sure spent a little time fixing that, because brain...what even are you doing?

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And then I wrenched myself out and got back to adding new words. There's still a big chunk to go, but momentum is building and I'm hurtling toward the final pieces.


Which goes to show you - the best writing advice is what works for you -- and that might change given the moment of time you're in.


This is probably true of most kinds of advice, come to think of it, but that's deeper than I'm prepared to go at the moment. Have to keep my brain on the project at hand, or we're going to go flipping perspectives willy nilly again.

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Happy December!

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