Writing the first draft

Just write. Don’t worry about the research. Start when two worlds collide. This gives an edge that generates tension and anticipation. The story is then born in the space where the objective and the subjective touch, where a man or woman seeks something that lies just beyond their reach.

Start by writing what you want to write, as garbled and incomprehensible as you wish. At this time, don’t worry about making sense. Just vomit out the story and let your writing rip.

Let it all hang out – the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t try to be clever and brood over sentences. Write simple sentences, one after the other. And write on the nail – there’s no room for sensitivity at this stage.

Write with urgency. These may be the last words you will ever write. If a thought is incomplete, then scribble and make a note in the margin. Be quick. Don’t think too hard. Pick the easiest words – those that come to mind immediately. Don’t question.

Don’t go read what you have written until you finish this draft. Use time as a means to work through the story. Time is about growth. So the way to write is to move from moment to moment, following actions and paying attention to the senses. Keep the story moving forward and keep raising the stakes.

You will rewrite this later. That’s when you can tighten up the writing. Keep the editing until after you complete the first draft, not before.

The point is to get a feel of the shape. You will know this isn’t your best work. Say to yourself, ‘This is okay. It may be bad, but at least it is written. Don’t worry. It can only get better.’

Begin with big brushstrokes. Start as close to the inciting incident as possible. That’s what we are interested in hearing about. How would you tell this story to a friend? Use this as a guideline.

Keep notes as you write. There may be events to happen that might be foreshadowed. Keep a note on anything that you want to write.

Nothing exists in the world until it has been made real. Sometimes writing stories happen in a weird kind of haunting. You get lost in a stream of consciousness. You reveal things about yourself that you have never acknowledged.

Let the story take you where it will. Be open to new ideas. Don’t always stick to the plan. Just tap into your subconscious and let your dreams talk. Channel Bill Murray. He said that the more relaxed you are, the better you are. Don’t worry about meaning. Just go with the rhythm. Hit the beat. Have fun.

Set a target. Maybe ten pages a day. Get writing as soon as you get up.

Do you chuckle as you write? The joy of writing is in the revisiting of emotions. I look for the positive in everything that happens. I write about how I overcame injustices and how I won.

It’s fun to write fast. It’s how ideas bounce off each other and tumble out. It’s okay to be messy. Thoughts are ambiguous and often surprising. I think of writing a story like the idea behind Schrodinger’s Cat. Storytelling is quantum physics for the writer. We spend our days opening boxes, and each time we find something that surprises us. It is our choice as to what is in the box. Think of writing as opening boxes. What’s inside? Have we changed an event? What is the consequence if we close the box and then open it again? Nothing is frozen in time. Everything is subject to change. Just like dreams that forever fascinate us in their randomness, so too our characters have yet to choose and their actions may also seem random. Every moment is filled with possibility. Events merge, separate, grow. Move from the first box to the second ad infinitum until you exclaim ‘No more’ and it will be done.

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