THE MOST IMPORTANT WRITING LESSON
Today, the blog is covering what I believe to be the most important writing lesson any writer can ever learn. I know that is a big statement. “The most important writing lesson.” But I will fight you to the death if you say I am wrong.
Okay, maybe not to the death. The first one to loose his/her breath, maybe.
This lesson isn’t something I came up with. This isn’t my original idea. Many writers before me have preached this lesson or something similar.
What’s the most important writing lesson?
Be patient. We’ll get there.
LESSONS ALREADY COVERED
The last few blogs we’ve talked about writing a scene while keeping the POV’s of your main character and secondary characters in mind. And we’ve also discussed writing a scene being aware of what you want your readers to feel when they’re reading the scene.
I believe those are very important lessons. They let you get into the heads of your characters, and they let you get into the heads of your readers. You also become more aware of the control you have on the affect of your reading.
Now, I’m going to take a point from some of my acting teachers and tell you to forget about those first few lessons.
Yeah, I know. Those first few lessons were to get you thinking about some specific points that are very important to good popular fiction writing.
Understanding your characters. Understanding what your are actually giving your readers. Understanding what your intentions are when you write.
What the heck does that have to do with acting lessons?
In acting, the actor does a lot of “homework.” They create backstories for their characters, use sense memory, explore deeply hidden emotions, etc.
But, when the scene starts, they are often told to forget everything and just play the scene from their gut.
It is assumed that all the homework is still there in the “subconscious,” and it will enlighten the work without the actor having to think about it.
That is what I’m asking you to do now.
Forget any of the homework.
In this lesson, just write.
Breaking Bad: Blood Money [5.09]
Badger: Ever tell you about my Star Trek script?
Skinny Pete: Star Trek script?
Badger: Yeah! I gotta write it down is all.
“I GOTTA WRITE IT DOWN IS ALL”
You have an idea. The story is bouncing around inside you. In your heart. In your mind.
But without something tangible, you can’t do anything with it.
You can’t publish your unwritten thoughts on Amazon Kindle.
You can’t send a Word Document of your unwritten thoughts to a publisher.
You can’t send a PDF of your unwritten thoughts to your friend’s friend’s mom who is a famous author who offered to read your book.
You have to write it down first.
ANSWER: WRITE IT DOWN
QUESTION: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT WRITING LESSON?
Write. It. Down.
As soon as you can. As quickly as you can. So you have a first draft you can work with.
Transfer the story from your heart and mind to paper/computer.
That’s the most important lesson.
Get the first draft done.
The Vomit Draft. It’s exactly what it sounds like.
You write like you can’t stop puking the words onto the page. You keep writing and writing and writing and writing until the draft is done.
The Vomit Draft is the first draft of your novel, your short story, your novella, your self-help book, your memoir, or your grocery list.
You don’t let yourself edit as you go, you don’t stop to figure out the perfect word, you don’t spend hours figuring out the perfect character name, or street name, or town name.
Write, write, write, write.
Don’t stop. Don’t hesitate.
Write. Write. Write.
To remind yourself for the second draft to do research, or double check facts, or pick news names, just type a question mark and a short sentence and keep going with the story.
The main thing is you don’t stop going. You don’t stop writing. Your fingers never leave the keyboard. You never put down the pencil/pen.
All you do is keep writing until the draft is done.
UNTIL THE DRAFT IS DONE.
All together now: GOD BLESS STEPHEN KING!
BUT WAIT – IF I WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT LIKE THAT… THE MISTAKES! IT WILL BE A MESS!
So? It’s a first draft? It’s not supposed to be perfect.
It’s supposed to need work.
That’s why there’s a second draft. And a third draft. Maybe a fourth and a fifth.
And then a final draft.
But, there can’t be a final draft, until there’s a finished:
When the first draft is finished, you have something to work with. You have something to mold. Something to make better. A draft you can work with to eventually make the perfect version of your story.
SOMETHING TO HOLD IN YOUR HAND
(Uh, that sounded dirty.)
The first draft is finished.
You have created something solid and tangible.
You can print out the pages of your completed first draft.
And hold them in your hand.
You don’t have to print it of course. Trees and all. But you could if you wanted too.
A completed first draft you can hold in your hand offers you the ability to finish a FINAL DRAFT that you can hold in your hand.
And that final draft offers you the opportunity to one day go to Barnes and Noble and take your published hardback book off the shelf and hold it in your hands.
And notice your picture on the back cover looks great!
FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT ASAP
HERE ENDETH THE LESSON