Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Embracing the Imperfect Draft

I get stuck on words.

I tweak them, wiggle them, rearrange them until they whistle. Until the sentence slides off the tongue just right.

It’s my guilty habit.

Every time I sit down to significantly revise a piece of work, I have to make a conscious effort to zoom out—to look at the bigger picture, and cut and change and rewrite to put it in the right order, with the right beats.

And then, to move on.

It took me a long time of being frustrated with my snail’s pace, of painstakingly rewriting a section, then moving on only to discover that the whole new section I’d just written needed to go (or needed to be re-written again), to realize I was just throwing away my time. Just spilling hot sauce all over it and putting it out with the cat litter.

Some drafts just aren’t great. Some drafts, you’ve just gotten the big pieces in place. You know it’ll still shift and move after someone takes a look at it, so you skip over nitpicks and try and see the big picture.

It took me a long time to embrace the imperfect draft as just another step toward a finished product. That it’s all right for a draft to not read like poetry, because that’s the stage that it’s in.

Don’t worry. Accept the imperfect draft. Think of it as a step to something greater. 

You’ll pretty it up later.

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