Girls Write Out
Monday, August 07, 2006

First Draft Blues

The day has finally arrived. You’ve spent months poking out your story on the computer and you’ve finally reached The End. Glory, glory, hallelujah! you shout to the fixtures in your office, your dog, whoever will listen.

Then you shuffle the manuscript pages in your eager fingers and read—it’s the moment of truth, and as your eyes read line after line, a nasty feeling crawls into your gut. You’re sure segments of it could have come from the fat pencil of seven-year-old. Other parts are so boring you nod off then wake up and wipe your drool from the pages.

You whine. You lament. You rent your clothes. I thought I was a writer! you say to yourself. But you can’t be because your writing is sludge. No, it’s worse than sludge. It’s the stuff that settles at the bottom of sludge.

Been there. Felt that. But after ten years of writing, I’m realizing my first draft is usually a Pile Of Dog Doo. Maybe it’s negative to call my newborn baby ugly, but it’s a relief to arrive at this place where I can read my first draft, feel the fear, then remind myself it’s okay. It’s only my PODD.

I recall the words of my college English professor. Writing is re-writing. I don’t remember anything else she said. (If I’d known I was going to be a writer I would have listened better.) But that one thing I do remember is important stuff—and as it turns out, my favorite part of the process.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:26 AM  
  Comments (11)
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At 6:48 AM, Blogger Eleen Cho said...

I can identify exactly. Thanks for telling me I'm not the only writer who thinks my own work reeks whenever I happen to read it!

At 9:24 AM, Blogger One More Writer said...

It's encouraging to know that it isn't just unpublished me that gets that feeling about my first draft!

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Cara Putman said...

I'm so glad to know that you feel this way, Denise. Thanks for the advice on letting the first draft be the first draft, too. I want everything to be perfect, guess I'll have to learn to let go of that!

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Cara, I'm a perfectionist too and constantly fight the need to make my first draft perfect. I know it ain't gonna happen, but that doesn't stop it from bothering me. Repeat after me . . . This is only my PODD, this is only my PODD . . .

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Julie Carobini said...

Yup, been there, and recently too :-)

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Ane Mulligan said...

Amen and amen, Denise! I love the editing process where I can really layer my story. If I try to do too much in the first draft, I end up losing the plotline. Blech! :o( You know - the old forest for the trees thing.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...


GREAT post! I'm with you, feeling your pain. You had me laughing out loud.

Yes, my first pile is dog doo, too. If only I could remember that along the way.

Hugs, Rachel

At 9:39 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

Whew. At least I'm not alone ...

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

So what do you do after that? Sometimes I can't even bear to read what I've written, much less edit! *facepalm*

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Oh, my, Kayla! A good answer would take more than a blog much less a comment! If we're not talking about plot/story but simply the writing, I tighten things by removing as many words as possible from each sentence, replace "telling" sections with "showing", replace cliches, find better verbs, find more creative ways to say the mundane, and so much more!

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Kayla said...

I found my problem! I keep trying to do that AS I write. Then I end up getting frustrated and shoving that WIP away and starting something else, refreshed only to be deterred once more. Hmmmm. Thanks! lol


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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