Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Spaghetti Method

First drafts are hard. I can very happily revise all day long. But facing that blank page, trying to create something out of nothing, can be sheer agony. Once in awhile I’ll get into a groove and those first draft words will simply flow, but that’s a gift so rare, I don’t even remember the last time it happened.

The reason first drafts are so difficult is that I subconsciously worry that the words I put on that blank page won’t be the right ones, that I’ll choose wrong before I even start. I sit paralyzed, my fingers hovering over the keyboard, trying to work out in my mind which words, in which order, I should use to tell my story—and not being able to commit to any of them. Finally I give up in frustration and go in search of a tasty snack (because, as my friend Suzanne says, I may get writer’s block, but I never get eater’s block).

In order to get anything written, I’ve had to develop the Spaghetti Method. When facing that blank page, I start throwing words at it to see if any of them stick. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing this, that whatever I throw on there doesn’t have to stay, that I can always scrape it off later. But the Spaghetti Method helps circumvent the agony of the first draft and gets me more quickly to the part I enjoy: revision.

First drafts still aren’t (usually) easy. And I’m still waiting for the next blissful moment of first-draft flow. But in the meantime, I’m not facing a blank page unarmed.

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