Writing the First Draft – A Battle to the Finish
I frequently have conversations with writers who are struggling to finish their pieces. So much so, it inhibits their desire to want to write. My advice to them is, and always will be, get to the end. No matter how sloppy or disconnected the story seems, finish it. I don’t care how you do it. Just get to the end of the first draft.
Yes, it’s difficult as hell. I compare the process to crossing an unfinished bridge that you have to build farther out each time before you can take another step. But the payoff is huge: once you make it across you get to go back and rewrite. I love the process of revision. With the first draft completed, you have something concrete to work with. Sure, the bridge may need shoring up here and there, or maybe it’s too wide in spots or too narrow in others. Maybe there are potholes, or the balance is off, but you have the foundation, and you know when you step on that bridge what awaits you on the other side. Now, it’s a matter of utilizing that knowledge to your best advantage.
Nothing’s easy in writing, but—and this is the part I love best—you get to go back and fine tune the echoes and foreshadows that lead to bigger echoes and foreshadows. You get to round out your characters until they feel like living people, and you get to refine your story’s twists and turns in a way that renders your readers speechless. God, I love the smell of revision in the morning. (Or something like that.)
My point is if you don’t get to the end you can’t get to the revision; you can’t put together a query letter, or send the letter out to agents. You can’t present your manuscript or memoir to publishers; you can’t submit your flash fiction, short story or poem to magazines, journals, and contests.
My final and most compelling reason for finishing up your work—I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t filled with a sense of accomplishment and joy when they finally made it to the end of a first draft. Have you?
Louis K. Lowy’s first published novel, DIE LAUGHING (IFWG Publishing 2011), is a humorously dark science fiction adventure set in the 1950s. His 2015 novel, PEDAL (IFWG Publishing), tells the story of Joanne Brick, a 49-yr-old music teacher who loses her job and struggles to reclaim her life through bicycle racing. TO DREAM, book one of his science fiction epic, ANATOMY OF A HUMACHINE (IFWG Publishing), was released in Jan., 2017. Louis’ short stories have appeared in, among others, New Plains Review, The MacGuffin Magazine, the anthology Everything is Broken, and the Chaffey Review. A former firefighter, he is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship and an alumnus of Florida International University’s creative writing program. His website is www.louisklowy.com, Look for him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.