best practices

The first draft of your story will be crap

The first draft of your story is probably crappy and that is a-ok. My best friend and college roommate, Ernest Hemingway, used to say, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Right on. 

Just put it on paper. You’ll feel better.
The other thing Ernie used to say is, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” While you don’t need to drink and draft, there’s something to letting it all out. Maybe you can talk aloud and record yourself. Or type your thoughts in a frenzy. Or write on post-its with a sharpie. Or rap it. Let it flow. Then there is a second layer to this quote, too. 

Don’t try to generate and evaluate at the same time. 
Put out your ideas where you can see them. Lots of them. Then start culling. Once you’re good with your choices, go for another round of invention. Back and forth. This approach is better than wild ideas all over the place and no editing OR boxing yourself up so much you can’t play anything but safe. If you know your audience, how you want them to feel, and what you want them to do when you’re done with your story, those are good enough parameters to start.

You’ll draft at least three rounds, so go easy on yourself at first. 
Your first draft should be big picture and you’ll make big leaps and cuts (am I going on vacation to the city or the beach? City!). Your second is about refining your direction (let’s stay at a bed and breakfast and go to museums all day). Your third is polish (this is how the first day of vacation will go from sunrise to starlight). 

Everyone struggles. Be authentic and you’ll be alright.

Check out this article on the mysterious Mr. Hemingway and then promise me you’ll cruise past your imperfections—you are your harshest critic—and get your stories out there. 

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