Posted on February 12, 2019
I was first introduced to the idea of drafting when I was reading Earnest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms for a summer assignment. In the novel’s introduction, Hemingway’s grandson details an arduous two-year long writing process. Each day Hemingway would write inventively, the next day he’d come back, re-read everything he’d written thus far and edit it. After that he would continue to write beyond the point he’d ended and repeat the cycle again. My tenth-grade self was utterly fascinated by this idea. I myself had only just begun creative writing at the time and was confused by my seemingly horrendous writing skills. It hadn’t occurred to me though, that it was because I never went back to revise my work that I was so discouraged. From then on I made it a point to listen Hemingway’s guidance and admittedly it’s brought me a long way. Even so, I still know so little as a writer and reading Lamott’s “Shitty First Draft” and Murray’s “Maker’s Eye” had only proved this point to me.
Murray’s “Maker’s Eye” was especially jarring to me. I have always been a very private writer, unwilling to let people revise my work and a bit too sensitive to the criticism when I did. Murray showed me the importance of detaching myself from my writing. Being confident in what you’ve written is good, but being too nice to yourself will only hold you back. Lammot’s “Shitty First Draft” had also taught me that it was okay to be secretive about your first draft, as she says, every good writer has a “shitty one” that they’re afraid to share. Both writers expand on this to a pivotal point- first drafts are a place to build and be imaginative. Keep revising and re-drafting your ideas and you’ll find there are even more brilliant ways to say them. Writing can be difficult, but having something to start with is the most important thing.
In all honesty, I personally have only ever gotten around to making second drafts, falling too far into dissatisfaction to push myself to go any further. I realize this feeling stemmed from me not realizing that there is always room to improve my writing. A good writing piece requires lots of effort and revision, not doing it perfectly the first time is alright. As I journey into this semester, I make it a goal to use all the plentiful advice Lammot, Murray and other writers have offered me and try to become a better writer, even if only by a little.