Kali here, let’s talk about drafts. The first one is always the hardest. You never feel like you have the right words. There is a fear that whatever you write will be bad. And it might be, but once you have a first draft down, you have more of an understanding where you’re going with your story. Along with this need to get it right, we always feel like we need to edit immediately to get it right. Which can make you spend more time editing a small piece of text, instead of actually finishing your draft.
I often struggle with having an idea for a story, but never feeling like I have the right words. Even when I know where I want the story to go, I’m always caught up on where is the right place to start the story? I want to get the words, the characters, the setting perfect the first go. But that is pretty impractical and is only holding you up from actually writing your story. In one of my creative writing classes, my teacher had us try an exercise that helped me stop focusing on getting it right the first time around and instead just get my ideas down on the page.
So in honour of that, today’s exercise is timed writing!
- Set a timer and don’t lift your pen from the page or fingers from the keyboard.
- No editing, no crossing out words, no corrections.
- Write for the whole time you’ve set.
- Just get your ideas out onto the page.
I usually do this for 5 minutes, sometimes longer. I found this helped just get my ideas out on the page. Then once my time was up, I could make all the adjustments I wanted. It’s helpful to know my ideas are just out on the page and now I can move ideas around, see where I need to expand and of course fix spelling errors. I did this weekly and it helped me sort out my ideas for my story. It helped me get comfortable with not needing to make every sentence perfect the first time around. Now, I’m more concerned with getting my ideas down on the page, and then I’ll start editing.
It’s much easier to get working on an idea once you have something down on the page. Try it out and let us know how it went!
ps I’m Kali, Pownal Street Press’ intern. I have a BA (Honours) in English Literature from Ryerson/Toronto Metropolitan University and I have just completed a Publishing: Books, Magazines, and Electronic graduate certificate. I’ve taken many writing courses during my undergrad and certificate, and so I thought I would share some of the tips that helped improve my writing.