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How's It Going?: First Drafts Edition

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Screenshot: The Simpsons/Disney Plus

It’s Monday. Welcome back to another week of living in this particular version of the world, and also welcome back to our daily open thread.

I had a pretty good weekend, all things considered. I spent most of Sunday working on a novel I’ve been kicking around. After spending my working hours in non-fiction, it’s been nice to get back to my fiction roots and have fun with language and ideas in a way I’ve been missing. When I edit or teach writing, I always remind people that first drafts can be as shitty as they have to be—you can’t fix something that doesn’t exist, I am fond of spouting obnoxiously—but when I’m writing, it’s hard not to think “Wow, this is crap” and lose heart halfway through a scene that isn’t going anywhere. I need to make a better outline, but outlining isn’t as fun as researching or just thinking up a scene and seeing where it goes, even if it will save me time and make for a stronger draft in the long run.


Even when first drafts suck, they have a lot of the most fun parts of writing: the experimenting and anticipation, the joy of having a character show me something about themselves I hadn’t thought of or a scene going in a cool new way. It’s always good for me to remember that I don’t have to do everything perfectly, that some brilliant completed novel doesn’t have to appear fully-formed in my notebook on the first go. It’s a lesson I could stand to take with me into other parts of my life, annoyingly.

How was your weekend? What new things are you trying or letting just be what they are? How’s it going?