Re-drafting · Writing

The second draft blues…

So I did my first blog post in what seemed like forever last week, all about what I planned to do this summer, and one of the things I planned to do was start draft 2 of my current WIP.

I was so, SO excited about it, not only because I’d been pretty happy with draft 1 when I finished it way back in January and because although I knew that there was a lot of work to do, there was definitely something there. The kind of something that was special.

BUT, although I knew I had a lot of work to do, I still didn’t realise how much there really was. I sat down and read draft 1 and cried. How could I ever of thought this was good? How could I have been happy with this work? Because it was bad, REALLY bad. And although I know that first drafts are MEANT to be rubbish and they’re only a starting point for draft 2, it really sucks when something you’ve worked so hard on for so long and then you read it and you just feel like GARGGHHHH.

I had a moment when I thought every word that I had written was awful and rubbish and didn’t make sense and why was I even doing this? Basically every single self-doubting, horrible, hating thought that has ever crossed your mind. That’s what I was thinking. I cried on and off for a few days. Tried desperately to think of something to do to salvage my little story, but nothing came to fruition.

Then I decided to read my story again. From the beginning, with no interruptions. I read it without emotion, not as a writer, but as a reader. I came to the conclusion that there were some major issues with my story, it was most definitely flawed and there were some downright cringy sections. But there were also some bits that I was really proud of, some sections that I really, really liked.

So I did something pretty drastic. I cut out everything that I wasn’t happy with, chapters that I didn’t think were beneficial to the story or that I thought were just plain stupid. Gone. I almost halved my word count. It was messy and painful, but it was oh, so necessary.

Almost immediately I felt better. I felt I had something that still needed a tonne of work, re-structuring and tinkering, but something that I could fix. Something that I was happy with. I’d found that special something again, the core of my work that just spoke to me as a writer, and although progress is slow, draft 2 is now officially ago-go.

I decided to write about this because sometimes as writers I think we have the tendency to put a happy spin on things. To always have projects on the go, or have something exciting in the works or be writing X amounts of words per day. And sometimes that is the truth. But sometimes stories don’t work, and you do spend all day looking at an empty page and you have to cut half your WIP to make it work again. There are always ups and downs, and it is important to chronicle the downs as it is to chronicle the ups.

4 thoughts on “The second draft blues…

  1. I’ve been there so many times. It’s funny how our opinion of our work changes. One minute it’s brilliant, the next it all sucks and then it seems we can see it for what it really (or almost really) is. I think it’s great that you didn’t give up on it. Lots of people would have and years later when they re-read it they’d think, “This wasn’t bad. I should have finished it.” 😉

  2. Keep in mind that we are all our worst critics. We have incredibly high standards for ourselves, and we relentlessly beat ourselves up. It may be helpful to find someone you trust to be very honest with you to be your alpha reader, someone who is not a writer – but a valid audience of your work. Someone who is not afraid to have their heads bit off when you react to an opinion or suggestion. You may end up revising something you yourself would have trashed. It is good to have feedback.

    1. Thank you – I will definitely take your advice. I am SO guilty of beating myself up over something that isn’t that bad – it’s so good to have someone to see your work from an outside perspective!

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