Seoul Writers Workshop

Resources, tips, and inspiration for the Seoul writers’ community.

Crappy First Drafts

with 3 comments

Here is a good post about the value of the bad first draft.

They start off with a quote from Joyce Carol Oates.

The first draft may be stumbling and exhausting, but the next draft or drafts will be soaring and exhilarating. Only have faith: the first sentence can’t be written until the last sentence has been written. Only then do you know where you’ve been going, and where you’ve been.
– from The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates

But it’s this paragraph later in the post that really resonated with me.

Writers often complain of the inner perfectionist who forces them to stop, reread what they’ve written, and tweak, audit, or retype until they are so discouraged they can’t continue. This work will never be good enough! they say. Another effort for the shelf.

I’m stuck in exactly that position currently.  I keep going back and rewriting the beginning.  I scrapped the first 75 pages.  I’m glad to see someone say that you just have to write the whole thing first.

Written by crfsanders

July 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. It is good to have such confirmation. Sometimes I often forget what I’ve signed up for when calling myself a writer. The dizziness of having pieces that never…..well….. quite feel polished is haunting at times.

    Thank you for sharing this post. Advice like this is what keeps us afloat.

    Good luck on the rewrites.


    Francesca Fraser

    July 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm

  2. You seem to have reached the point when the doctor is so focused on his art he cannot even tell if his patient is still alive.

    Better let that body rest for awhile, or rot instead of going in circles.

    The shelf, then. And a few months later, if you are not convinced, read it with some distance. All the defaults will jump at you. And who knows, if you still feel a spark, you may decide that some good parts could be transplanted somewhere else.

    Stephane MOT

    July 8, 2010 at 12:50 am

  3. Thanks for pointing me towards this article. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who finds writing so frustrating so much of the time. I have moments when I look at what I’ve written and think ‘This is all just vomit.’ But then I think, ‘If I manage to arrange this pile of vomit in JUST the right way, it’s gonna end up so beautiful…’ And that actually keeps me going at it.

    Digging through vomit in search of beauty, yup, writing for me in a nutshell.


    July 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

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