Friday, May 18, 2012
First drafts and rewrites
“The first draft of anything is shit,” said Ernest Hemingway. Its something I completely agree with. If anyone were to read my first draft they would officially disown me. My first drafts are written in long hand, on ruled sheets, because on plain sheets of paper my handwriting goes haywire. Every corner of the paper is filled with words as new ideas strike me.
I read about a writer who has said that, “I am not a very good writer, but I am an excellent rewriter.” I agree wholeheartedly. First drafts are anything but publishable. Only we writers can make sense of it.
The first draft is just a collection of words on paper that makes sense only to the writer who through rewrites has to wade through the literary mess, sift and sort, and make sense of it. It takes several rewrites for writers to actually come close to querying.
I find rewriting fun. As the basic model or skeleton is ready, its now time to give it shape, to refine and remodel. To nip, tuck, chip and chisel.
Something that has personally worked for me is that after the first draft, I take a break of few days. I let the manuscript marinate in its own juices. During this enforced break, I catch up with reading, writing my articles for the newspapers and several other things. Though my mind is constantly hovering over the manuscript, I don’t actually sit down to rewrite.
This process is a lot like meditation, when thoughts enter a mind during a state of meditative contemplation, we are advised to neither ignore, nor encourage them. I write everything that comes into my mind during the first draft, even when I know I most probably will be deleting it later.
When I return, I feel I get a fresh and better perspective over the first draft. Actually after each rewrite a little break is a must for me. It’s like giving each other a little breathing space. And when I return to the WIP, I am eager to tackle another draft. Though the mental connection with my WIP is constant, the physical distance is very therapeutic. I am then able to see the manuscript with its ugly warts. The glaring loopholes stare at me. With each rewrite I hope to plug the gaps created in ignorance.
Do you have any first draft tips for me? How do you all tackle your first drafts and how do you all handle the rewrites. We would all love to know.