Inspired by this interview with Nora Roberts, wherein she talks about her writing process, I have a question for y’all: what does your first draft look like?
In the interview with Clarissa Sansone, Roberts says,
“I’ll vomit out the first draft: bare-bones, get-the-story-down. I don’t edit and fiddle as I go, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Once I get the discovery draft down, then I’ll go back to page one, chapter one, and then I start worrying about how it sounds, where I’ve made mistakes, where I’ve gone right, what else I have to add, where’s the texture, where’s the emotion. I start fixing. And then, after I’ve done that all the way through again, I’ll go back one more time, and that’s when I’m really going to worry about the language.”
I’m so curious about what that bare-bones draft looks like and how it reads.
I don’t personally examine my own writing process closely because I don’t want to scare it or make it feel shy. But usually when I have an idea for an entry or an essay or whatever it is I’m writing, I open the nearest text editor and type whatever words are bubbling up in my brain. Sometimes that email from my Blackberry, or the text editor on my computer, but generally if I’ve had an idea for something, I have to write it down or it is gone, gone, gone. And if I’m not specific enough, I leave notes for myself that are mystifying. I have one that says, “Grate sidewalk sinktrap.” I can only assume I was about to write something really squicky, since there are few things more eeeeeyew-worthy in my world than the sink trap. I get the shivers just thinking about touching it.
Sometimes an entry of a few hundred words is born out of a note that consisted of five or six. Sometimes I can find a review in a two-word note in a margin (if I can read my handwriting). Sometimes I type out something in nonsensical order and then read later and wonder what I was smoking. But because this is a blog, unpublished entries don’t get better by sitting. They get stale. So my first draft is often one of only two, maybe the only one before I try to find any typos.
I’m sure this is relentlessly boring for you, but I’m meanwhile very curious about your drafting process, what your first draft looks like. Do you start at the beginning and seat-of-your-pants to the end? Do you outline and then draft? Do you ramble on and find the one good part and use that? Does it vary every time? How does it work for you?