Thursday, September 29, 2011

Exploratory Draft Part Two

A while ago I blogged about calling my first draft an "exploratory draft". This idea came from Laini Taylor, who blogged about the same thing here.

Today I am revisiting the idea. I've wanted to write a post about this for a while, but I didn't feel like I'd come out to a place yet where I could.

The problem was letting go. I've finished a major rewrite. I've been working on developing an idea, but no matter how hard I tried the plot wouldn't come together. Suddenly I started to feel like a failure. I started to worry that the book, tradition urban fantasy, would just get lost among the hundreds of other urban fantasy books out there. 

Then I thought about my other ideas, the weird ones. The ones that are like urban fantasy but set on another planet. Or even weirder than that, the ideas that approach being considered cyberpunk. The little voice worried that a market would be hard to find for those ideas because they are so strange. And what if the book does well? I'd been stuck in the genre. 

Then of course the guilt set in, because I know I should not be worrying about agents and publishing at this stage; I should be focusing on the novel. 

This little cycle of emotions made me realize some things. First, writers are crazy and I am no exception. Second, my doubt masquerades itself as a reasonable voice only looking out for my future. Do you see what it did there? First my idea was too normal and then it was too weird. I couldn't win either way.

So I tried to get back to that feeling, of just having fun with an idea. Allowing myself to write a really, really crappy first draft. Of writing scenes I knew would never make it. Of exploring the idea.

It's not as easy as it sounds. There's a lot invested in the idea after all. And for me, I have to have some idea of the primary conflict before I head off into writing land. Otherwise the idea fizzles after a few scenes. 

I wish I could tell you that I had a magical breakthrough and the novel is now flowing off my fingertips like water from a stream, but that's not the case. I started something last night, but I don't know what the primary conflict is. I plan to spend time today figuring some basic things out, and hopefully I can start up again. 

The point is to just keep trying. You're going to enter weird slumps and phases of your writing life, and sometimes you have to get really creative with the solutions. 

Anyone have any horror stories to share? What about that nagging voice? How do you manage to ignore it enough to make it go away?


  1. That effing voice just doesn't go away. No matter what I do, it's still there. I've taken to drowning it out with really loud music because it's a pretty unhelpful voice. I had my WIP idea for a long time but I wouldn't let myself start it because I thought it would have no market. The dumb blinds me.

    And I guess the scary thing, is that to write something original, you have to take these leaps of faith and commit to something absolutely crazy.

  2. Rena: You are soooo right. It never goes away. And the dumb blinds me as well. Part of what helped me was realizing it wasn't my common sense, it was my doubt. Like taking a mask off the killer, only way less dramatic.

    I just keep telling myself I can only write what I can. I would die of boredom if I tried to write what I thought other people would like. I try to hold onto to writing for myself. At least I had fun, right?