This is probably the fifth or sixth draft of this article. I come by finished pieces the hard way. Each story is a war, each paragraph a battle, and each sentence a skirmish. I write, delete, re-write, trash the whole thing, start over, walk away, and then come back and write a little more. Eventually, battered and bloody, I find I have a finished story. I love it.
I have read many, many books about writing and it seems the majority advocate a certain loose free-ness in writing first drafts. Find a blank page and just write for 30 minutes without worrying about typos, grammar, or aesthetics. Maybe this works for some people, but not for me. I agonize over every word of the first sentence. I may re-write it a dozen times before I am happy and can move on. The second sentence is no different, and the third after that.
But each sentence leads me to the next. Each paragraph suggests where the next will travel. I find the story through the act of writing it. I cannot understand something until I have tried to write about it. While I certainly write because I love the act of writing, even if I were to loathe it I would still write; it is how I understand the world.
When I began this piece, six drafts ago, it was about something completely different. The process lead me here. Perhaps one day I will write about what I had intended to initially. Maybe not.
I do follow one piece of writing advice, however: “Write what you know.” This is not a conscious decision. I cannot help it. In fact, I may not fully understand it until I am finished writing about.
by Ryan S./ CommonCreativ