Right now, I am most definitely dealing with a chaotic first draft. The story is there, but it has issues on every level. Rather than give in for any longer to feeling overwhelmed–feeling overwhelmed has kept me from editing for the last few days–I thought I would explore the beauty that is a chaotic first draft.
Really, there’s no need to panic and throw in the towel when you finish a novel and think: this is garbage, and it doesn’t hold up, and I have no idea what to do with it.
Figuring out what to do with it can be as great an adventure as writing the draft was . And that’s where I’d like to start.
- EDITING A CHAOTIC DRAFT IS A GREAT ADVENTURE. Like all adventures it is filled with ups and downs, small victories and small defeats. Like all adventures, you probably won’t be able to tell when or how it’s going to end, and that’s part of the fun. Let it be part of the fun. What is life if not an adventure, a journey? I need to enjoy and appreciate the journey!
- YOU WILL DEVELOP ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS. No doubt about it. To tackle a chaotic draft, you will need to organize not only your thought processes concerning it, but your approach to it. Maybe you’ll decide to get organized by crafting and playing around with an outline. Maybe you’ll just organize how you tackle the issues: I’ll deal with this subplot first, and then that plot hole, and then point of view, and so on. However you do it, you’ll be getting organized.
- CREATIVE THINKING IS FUN AS WELL AS HEALTHY. Crafting order out of a draft with many problems will definitely test–and expand–the limits of your creativity. It will exercise your brains muscles, and that kind of “exercise” really can keep your brain strong and in good working order.
- LIFE IS CHAOTIC. Always. I know my life has rarely felt as chaotic as it does to me right now, as I’m looking to move back home and find work and just in general get my life together. Sometimes I feel that this is a horrible time to be dealing with a chaotic draft. The chaos spills over and I need some downtime, some release. Well, I can get the downtime elsewhere. Dealing emotionally (as well as practically) with a chaotic draft will give me the skills and the tools to craft sense and order out of my chaotic life.
So, those are my thoughts on chaos in a draft: chaos means adventure, and adventure is good! Adventure is healthy. Adventure means action and growth.
I’ve been reading a lot of G.K. Chesterton lately–especially Orthodoxy, as I mentioned in my post about multiple protagonists and patterns of narration. The joy of adventure is part of Chesterton’s major argument, especially when he discusses the philosophical truths we all recognize as children in fairy tales, and it’s stuck with me.
You see, I tend to prefer organization and routine to action, adventure, and chaos. But that doesn’t mean adventure is a bad thing: far, far from it.
So, I’m curious: what have been your experiences with chaotic first drafts? Do you have a healthy love-hate relationship with them? That’s what I’m trying to develop 🙂
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