I prefer to write my first draft longhand, in A5 notebooks. The handwriting is illegible. The pages are scruffy and full of crossings out full of half finished sentences with not much punctuation. The most important thing is to get it written not get it right. It feels fantastic when I’ve finished a chapter and I don’t have the energy to write another crazy jumble of words. So I type up what I have written, adding a few full stops and commas but not much else.
Stephen King, the great horror writer, describes the first draft as ‘writing with the door shut’. No one else is going to see what I’ve written so I can write anything.
I feel good when I’ve finished a chapter, but I feel ecstatic when I’ve finished the book. This is a very dangerous time for me. I am invincible. I have written the best book ever. I am going to be more successful than JK Rowling.
I am totally deluded.
I don’t need anyone to confirm my delusions. I don’t show my first draft to anyone. I print it off, file it away and go and work on something else for a while.
The first draft is my way of ensuring that the story hangs together. That it is ‘enough’. That I have enough characters, enough action, enough theme, enough subplot.
I’m dressing the skeleton I created in the planning stage in loose fitting clothing and I’m the only one who thinks it looks beautiful.
It’s only in the second draft that I make my skeleton something I can share with others.