“This doesn’t look like the cable cars, Daddy,” I said, as we moved through the line. I could see the cable cars overhead, but it looked like they were coming down in another place altogether. Meanwhile, the roar of a roller coaster grew louder, as did the screams of its riders.
“It’s fine. Just keep walking,” my Dad said.
And thus, despite my astute observations, I trusted my dad and boarded my first ever roller coaster when all I really wanted was a trip on the cable cars. But I loved it. Thrilled and windblown, still a little shaky in the knees, I got off a few short minutes later and said breathlessly, “AGAIN.”
Last week I watched as my boys rode their first roller coasters. I always imagined I’d be with them, but we had an opportunity to go to Disney and Legoland right now in this third trimester of my pregnancy. I felt oddly teary-eyed and moved waiting to see their faces as they came bounding through the exit. I definitely expected tears (after the Tower of Terror especially), but they loved it. Lincoln kept talking about the ride that went up and down, up and down. I still can’t believe they both were brave enough (or tall enough!) but perhaps their bravery came by not knowing exactly what was ahead. They just got on the ride with their daddy, as I had all those years ago.
I think sometimes with writing, we need a dose of stupid bravery. Click to Tweet
Long ago, I used to write one perfect draft. Which is to say that a draft for a school paper or a short story took me endless hours and often had me honing in on a single sentence for hours. Writing, re-reading, deleting, thinking. Trying to bend and force my words to be that perfect sentence. It was work and effort and meant that I was slow and often frustrated and hardly ever finished anything. (At least in terms of fiction. I turned in most of my school papers.) There was no first draft or printing of pages and marking up, revisiting after time. I wrote ONE draft, consumed with making it perfect the first time.
Then I got smart. I realized sometime in college (during what was likely a midnight Diet Mountain Dew and Twizzler infused bout of desperation) that if I just stopped thinking about perfection and poured out every thought—EVERY THOUGHT—onto the page, I had something to work with. I had the freedom to print those imperfect, terrible pages and mark them up. I could be my own worst critic. (Click to Tweet) I found a sick sort of pleasure in writing terrible critiques in the margins: HORRIBLE! THIS IS THE WORST SENTENCE EVER WRITTEN. NO. JUST NO.
I came to call this my vomit version, and it is still the way I write. Getting all the words and thoughts on the page in a first draft, not always even in complete sentences. There is something unbelievably freeing about this, and it allows my brain to spew out things I may not have planned for originally and may not have had access to when I was being uptight and trying to be perfect straight off the bat. I would hate for anyone to ever read these drafts, and honestly would love to have some kind of program on the computer that would start when I die, deleting these files one-by-one just to prevent anyone from reading them. Not that anyone would care, but just in case.
My first time on the roller coaster, there was a sense that I didn’t know the end. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, though I knew as the harness came down that it was NOT the safe and slow cable car. It took some courage and also a little stupidity or ignorance (or a great trust of my father). Drafts are like that: I have to be brave to write so terribly, to just get the words on the page and to allow my brain the freedom to toss it all out there. Often I find that my original ideas don’t work. It is the surprise ideas stemming from my letting go that stick and become something important, something I might not otherwise have seen if I was concerned about how everything sounded in the first draft.
Though I do these vomit versions with most writing, I tend to compose here on the blog in the blog format itself. I forget my own best advice and write to be perfect. I think maybe it’s time for me to think about drafting. About that freedom in pouring out the words and then going back to hone and perfect, tossing out the dross.
Are you like me, writing in compose mode and never printing or really editing? Do you ever let loose in a first draft and step bravely out to see what might be in your brain before putting the words on a drafting page? Maybe this week, we can challenge each other to try writing a first draft, NOT in our blog template. Even if you find that a vomit version isn’t the best process for YOU (because we all have a different process), consider trying a first, vomit-y, brave and free draft before posting. See if something magical opens up, thus changing your process forever. I’d also love to hear about your process for blog and other writing in the comments!
And now: time to share! I’m so glad to be back with this little linky community after a long hiatus during a move and whirlwind Florida trip. If this is your first time, welcome! If you’ve joined up before, I’m SO glad you’re back. I love the little community that is forming and hope it continues to grow—not necessarily giant in numbers, but in depth and growth as writers as we write and read and share. Join the FB group if you want a chance to connect more and get the prompts early.
This week’s prompt: FIRST.
As always, I want the prompt to be a prompt, not a prescriptive. Write about what comes first, first base (of any variety, ha!), your first whatever, first grade, or what comes to your mind first. I don’t even care if you mention the word first, so long as your post comes from this inspiration.
The rules are simple:
Link back. Either by sharing the photo link from the sidebar of my blog or a simple text link.
Write something new. Don’t like up an old post, but stick to something that is inspired by the prompt. Any genre or blog type is fine, but I would suggest not going overly explicit or adult in content. This is not much of a bow-chicka-bow-wow community. Let us know at the beginning if you’re writing fiction, not non-fiction.
Please read ALL the entries. Yes, ALL. This is a relatively small group and I want it to be a community. Dropping a link and running is not what I envision. Even if it takes you a week, visit every post. Leave a comment if you’d like so they know you were there. If you love what you’re reading, share it with your readers on social media. I will be visiting all and sharing all, so make sure your Twitter handle is easy to find so I can follow you and tag you!
Follow the general linky rules: Link to your post, not just your blog. Don’t be spammy or link to a giveaway or your own linky. Link up only once.