Life as a First Draft

The other day I managed to burn sausages while simultaneously  trying to hold a conversation with my boyfriend and sort out my work clothes for the next day.  He wasn’t impressed. ‘Then why don’t you cook?’ I snapped.

I’m still waiting for the answer to that one.

My multi-tasking skills are failing more and more regularly as I try to squeeze the things that I want to do in between the things that I have to do. Add a pile of the things that everybody else expects me to do and I can be close to screaming by the end of the week.

Now held in the icy grip of National Novel Writing Month I’m living on my nerve endings while I bash out a first draft. I want to get it done as quickly as possible because I need to know if the story works. Actually, it’s more that I need to know if I work.  Completing a first draft is self validation that all the post it notes and coloured ink I have poured into the outline stage isn’t wasted.

Each day I live is more or less the same.  I get up and rush through everything, normally wishing that I was doing something else. I’m invariably tense and planning the next thing that I need to do before the first one is finished.  It’s stressful and usually leaves me run down and gasping for more time.

In Nail Your Novel, Roz Morris describes a first draft as something to take your time over because it’s the space where you are writing just for you alone and letting your imagination run without restrictions. It’s something to savour while you get to know your characters and your setting.



This was a whole new idea to me.  The thought that a first draft was a magical thing to be enjoyed rather than something to suffer through when faced with a deadline gave me something to experiment with.  This and it being practically January (come on, it’s closer than you think) with posts about New Year’s resolutions on the breeze combined to make me realise that living my life like it was NaNo wasn’t the most productive thing to do long term.

We only get one draft at life after all and therefore it seems crazy to tuck down our heads and barge forward without taking time to see the wider scheme of things and just enjoy the tiny bits that sparkle.  After all, in a first draft  you aren’t supposed to go back and change things and in life you don’t even get the choice.


Taking time out to kick Autumn leaves

One thing that I’ve found really useful in slowing down is to get the train into work occasionally.  It makes the commute take longer but it makes me less irate and gives me longer to think, read, plan my next outline…

If you feel like you need to slow down and enjoy the scenery more have a look at this post and this one  for info on why we are all so busy, and how to stop it.  Do you have any top tips for appreciating the moment? Or can you not stop yourself rushing ahead as well?



2 thoughts on “Life as a First Draft

  1. A post close to my heart, Deborah! I ‘gave up’ writing earlier this year because I was sick of being so ‘busy’ and trying to fit it in was stressing me out. I realised it wasn’t really the number of things I have to do but the pressure to write that was making me feel so out of control. Now I have just started up again but I am making it fit in with me and if there isn’t any time to write one day or two days… or three or four… I am not going to lose any sleep over it. Life is for kicking the leaves, spending time with people (and pets!) and living. Not just for striving to achieve goals we have set ourselves. Great post!

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