Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.
One day, while grumbling, I had an epiphany. Be thankful for this hive of activity, because that means your home is active, bustling, and full. Our kids are already growing up too fast, and soon all this activity will move on. A messy, crazy home means it's lived in.
I likened it to writing. When pounding out that first draft, our minds are buzzing with activity. Our thoughts might be scattered, and our mountain of ideas demands attention. And the end product? If your first drafts are anything like mine, they're a mess. But here's the good thing:
A messy first draft means you've finished a book.
You didn't just dream about it, or talk about it. You did it. You accomplished something that many people wish they could do. No matter where our writing journeys take us, this alone is worth celebrating. The mess, whether it's minor or major, can be cleaned up. Remember the great advice we've all heard--"First get it written, then get it right," and "You can't revise a blank page."
Would I like to have a perfectly clean and calm home? No, because that would mean our kids are grown and gone.
Would I like a perfect first draft? It would be nice, but it's not possible. In my opinion, the only perfect books are the ones in our heads, not yet written. It's the sitting down and writing, the finishing, and the revision, that separates the wishers from the doers.
Hopefully we can all appreciate our messy houses, and messy manuscripts. Activity, whether in our homes or in our minds, is a great thing.
Do you think it's ok to have a messy first draft, because that means you've finished a book? And if you haven't finished a manuscript, what's holding you back? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Final question--is your laundry mountain always present, or is that just mine?
I admit I have a hard time with a first draft that's too messy, which is why it takes me so long to finish; I go back a million times and fix things. But it still isn't perfect by the time it's done. Like you said, that would be near to impossible.ReplyDelete
My first book was one where I tried to have a clean first draft. It took me forever and it still wasn't clean. Now I just write straight through and clean it up afterwards. The cleaning still takes a while, but at least I feel like I already accomplished something.ReplyDelete
And yep, the laundry mountain is always there. Sometimes it's shaved down a mite, but it's never really gone.
Life is full of other activities and demands for our time, so it's good to recognize every step of the writing process. Even if your first draft is a mess, as you said, you finished your goal. Thanks for reminding me every little step counts.ReplyDelete
I really needed to hear this today. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo but I've been having such a hard time making myself write because I don't have everything planned out. Plus, I hate seeing the crappiness that's coming out of my fingers. But I guess I really need to let go and just write so I have something to revise! Thanks for this post. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for this post! Before I viewed the manuscript as just another thing I need to clean in addition to the laundry, dishes, carpets, diapers etc. But now I will treasure it for what it is: Completed, in need of a cleaning, but proud to be on paper. And something that brings me joy, along with that baby who needs his diaper changed for the hundredth time today.ReplyDelete
This is brilliant! I not only think it's okay to write a messy first draft, I think it's a necessity! I'm a huge believer in getting it down and editing it later. I love your comparison, beautifully said. And that looming pile of laundry, oh yeah, it's ever-present at my house too. #writerthingReplyDelete
Mine never goes away! And it seems like when I do get it caught up, and take a two or three days off, it doubles in size! My draft is messy, and while I'm not exactly looking forward to cleaning it up, I do feel a sense of accomplishment from writing 80K words on a single subject.ReplyDelete
The laundry mountain NEVER goes away. And I totally agree with you and LOVE your perspective. My grandma used to say the same thing about a messy house to my mother -- be thankful for it because when it's clean your kids will be gone.ReplyDelete
As my kids are now teens, thinking of this just makes me all weepy! As for the WIP -- I will TRY to keep your lovely perspective in mind as I revise. :-)
My first drafts are actually never really first drafts because I can't help but edit as I go. It's my way. I like it. It works. I'm onto my third novel now. I can't stand letting bad writing sit there until I reach the end. This leaves me with excellent beginnings, good middles, and so and so endings, however. But I do get there in the end, even it it takes me a year to finish that "first draft". BUT, my laundry is ALWAYS a mountain high. And I don't have kids!!!ReplyDelete
None of my boys wear the same size socks, so laundry is a NIGHTMARE!! My kids are visiting my parents this week - I only did 1 load of laundry and didn't have to buy groceries. HA!ReplyDelete
And yeah, messy, messy first drafts. Good analogy!
Thanks for this post, Julie! I have never finished a manuscript, though I've started many, because what I write fail to live up to the "perfect" manuscript in my head. However, it's so true that a messy first draft is a complete draft. That is better than an incomplete one any day.ReplyDelete
My laundry mountain is like yours, might dwindle at times but never manages to disappear.. arggh!ReplyDelete
We finished a book - I like that!ReplyDelete
And, um, no... my wife does laundry daily.
Love, love, love this. My laundry is like yours-- never finished. And neither are the dishes. Or the sweeping. Or the dusting...it's always there for me to do, but you're right, that is indicative of an active, happy home!ReplyDelete
And I love my first drafts for the same reason. I love having a messy, twisty blob of words on the page. Because they're on the page! I can fix them! Make them better! I love every stage of writing-- both making the mess and cleaning it up. :)
I always celebrate finishing the first draft because I'm one of those weird writers who doesn't like drafting. Love editing. Hate the actual writing. Strange, I know. So for me to get the first draft done is a huge deal. And it is a mess, but then, for me, the fun begins ;)ReplyDelete
Laundry isn't a problem yet at our house. My biggest challenge is the amount of time my toddlers demand. I keep reminding myself that this is a precious time, that they're not always going to want Mama to play with them, that these are teaching opportunities. But seriously. There's only so many times I can re-enact Cinderella or read Llama Llama Mad at Mama.
Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse
Revision is the carrot at the end of the stick that keeps me moving forward through the messy first draft. And laundry? DH has been taking care of that for most of our married life. He's better at it. Less messy.ReplyDelete
A draft is a draft - messy or perfect - a book!ReplyDelete
My hubby does the laundry - so I never have a mountain! If I were in charge, there would be a mountain range!!
Okay, Alex's wife does their laundry and Angelina and Loree's husbands do the laundry. Is anyone else totally jealous?ReplyDelete
I love hearing about everyone's first draft experiences. Thanks for sharing :D
I love the madness that is my first draft waiting for me as I polish a WIP that is closer to the finish line. I would feel hollow without a book-child clamoring for my attention.ReplyDelete
Finally! An analogy between laundry and writing that makes me feel better about the fact that my laundry is also omnipresent (which means there are people living here with bodies to go in the clothes!).ReplyDelete
Loved this one...
I'm almost finished with my first draft - and it's a mess, no two-ways about it. I have the talking head thing going on (I just blogged about, hope you can stop by).ReplyDelete
Laundry? It's not so bad. When my daughter was in 8th grade I started finding clean laundry in the dirty laundry basket because she was too lazy to put it away. She started doing her own landry in the 8th grade :)
If I don't have a messy first draft, I won't have a first draft, it's that simple.ReplyDelete
And of course the laundry mountain is ever present :)
What a great analogy! As a fellow writer, I know exactly what you mean. Isn't it fun to watch our messy first draft morph into a cool story? lol :)ReplyDelete
On to the clean house part of the analogy: I love a clean house, and it's an easier task once the children are grown, but sometimes the quiet is kind of sad...
(Thank you for you kind congrats on my 100 word story.) :)
Becoming an empty nester,
Aww, I agree!! I'll take the active home any day. And my laundry pile is more of a mountain. And I think it has legs. And fangs. Eep. Also, of course a messy first draft is necessary! Better than a blank page like you said!ReplyDelete
Love that comic. I wonder sometimes if that's what my kids are thinking when I'm ready to hit extreme meltdown. :O)ReplyDelete
Sometimes it's hard to give yourself that permission to write messy. To get to the end of that messy first draft is SUCH an accomplishment.ReplyDelete
I completely agree. I do much better when I just let myself go. If I think to much about wording, grammar, etc. it takes me forever to get my daily goal out, if at all. Sometimes you can be surprised at how fast the ideas come spilling out if you just open that spout to it's full stream.ReplyDelete
Julie, thanks for getting my attention with the whole clean, quiet house means the kids have moved out part. I have trouble with this because I want everything cleaned up. *sigh* I guess I need to work on getting over this and simply emjoying the fact that I have a few more years with my sons at home.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the attention-getter.
I have several messy 1st, 2nd and 3rd drafts. :) My problem is I'm always anxious to move onto my next idea and don't spend as much time as I should revising.ReplyDelete
The words "First" and "Draft" imply exactly what your are talking about, otherwise we'd be writing our "First Perfects."ReplyDelete
Give yourself time for 10 words for each article of clothes folded. You'll have enough time to finish another first draft in no time!
I agree. As moms we can't stand the mess at times but certainly don't want my kids to grow up too fast! I don't mind a messy first draft b/c often I think it's just fine while I'm writing! I don't realize the mess until after.ReplyDelete
There's nothing more frustrating than having finally beat the laundry pile, then seeing your hubby/son/daughter throw things in their basket that have been worn for, like, one hour, because they feel like changing clothes. Errrgg! For me, it's not the washing or the drying. It's the folding...and then seeing things stuffed in drawers like wads of used kleenex. Thank you for letting me vent. I feel better now :)ReplyDelete
As for the writing, I definitely think a messy first draft is an accomplishment. Of course, I'd love to do revisions as I write, but that's just not the nature of things. Just having something concrete to work with is important. Great post!
I agree it’s nice to have a first draft complete, and that we should revel in the glory of it.ReplyDelete
But the tighter first draft you can achieve, the better off you’ll be in the long run. I am learning this lesson every day.
I don’t do laundry, I exchanged that chore for mowing the lawn and changing the oil in the cars or fixing things that are broke…
So the writer meets potential husband in bar and susses them out for laundry duty - nice! I'm jealous too.ReplyDelete
I'm also one who has a hard time giving a number to what I'm writing (1st draft, 2nd draft) because like some other commenters, I edit constantly. By the time I write chapter 30, chapter 1 may have been changed 100 times. It is a slow process, but just the way my mind works. I can't change my approach, though I've tried. Laundry...endless. But that's life in all its messy glory.ReplyDelete
Catherine's on to something, don't ya think?ReplyDelete
True, true! I'm always thankful for my crappy little drafts because it means I've done what quite a few people haven't tried yet. This is a great post. :)ReplyDelete
What? you have one of those laundry mountains too??! How about that. Do you have one of dishes on the counter along with it? LOL Yep, I don't mind a messy house too much when I'm busy making messy first drafts. Luckily, neither does my hubbs. ;o)ReplyDelete
Here here, Julie! And I cracked up at that cartoon. I poached it for my own files too. ;)ReplyDelete
A spotless house is a sign of an unlived life. That's what I believe anyway. I love having teh chaos at home too. The irony of it is that I find inspiration in it, and i wonder if I'd be nearly as motivated to write if I didn't have the family madness. Wouldn't trade it for the world!!
Had to laugh because my post today is totally about that mountain of laundry before and after a book. Spotless houses are too quiet, I agree; they're also sad as if they're waiting for the people to arrive and those people never do.ReplyDelete
Great comparison between housekeeping and drafting books. Messy is good.
I love this post. I recently hear an author say that every time they revise, they revise the entire draft just looking for one thing. Like adding depth to one character, or continuity to a certain plot. I imagine that would help me focus on revision, since my first drafts are very messy, and it's so hard to know how to jump in and revise!! I wish I remember where I was when I heard that tip!ReplyDelete
My first drafts are quite messy. There is also a sense of satisfaction that I have finished what I wanted to write.ReplyDelete
I had these exact thoughts this weekend. Our kids are growing so fast! I'll take the mess--and I'll grumble about it!--for as long as I can. Great attitude!ReplyDelete
Oh, thank you for the inspiring words, Julie! They were exactly what I needed to hear!ReplyDelete
I'm on chapter two of my edits (and am trying not to be hopping mad with my editor), and am facing the next thirty-some chapters while simultaneously dealing with a messy house, shuttling kids around, going to work, etc.
Having these problems is a privalege. And sometimes I have to remind myself of it.
So true, even if it's a messy first draft, it still is words on paper! ....and the laundry pile? Ever growing!
Great post and reminder, Julie! I am a mess in my home and at my desk, in my mind writing a frist draft, but that is what I need to polish it into a diamond. Or at least try!ReplyDelete
wow. VERY motivational--thanks, Julie! I just finished going through, cleaning my old MS, so you know I needed to hear this! :D <3ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reminder! I agree. I'm revising my first draft now and I have to remember to be proud of the fact that I finished instead of overwhelmed with all the work left to be done. :)ReplyDelete
OMG, you almost made me cry with this line:ReplyDelete
Would I like to have a perfectly clean and calm home? No, because that would mean our kids are grown and gone.
I mean, I've been always scared about having an empty nest...
Oh well, I know you're talking about first drafts, but still... *sniff*
And yeah, my first drafts are always messy, too!
Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)
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