Over the last couple of weeks for uni, I’ve been reading about the writing processes of several published authors.
What I’ve learned isn’t particularly surprising, but it’s extraordinarily comforting and reassuring.
You see, I know that for most writer’s what they first put on the page is utter rubbish and will remain so until they go through a series of edits and refinements to bring it towards the completed story. This is the writing process for the majority of writers, and while some writers are lucky enough to put diamonds on the page the first time around, it’s a rarity. But there’s a difference between actually knowing that fact, and accepting it as something that will also happen to you.
Like many other writers, the hardest part for me is always getting started. I think I’m afraid of the mess. If I’m scribbling notes all over the place to simply get my ideas out of my head and onto the page, I know they’re going to be in a state of disarray, utter chaos, out of order, existing in a state of limbo, separated from what I hope to be an actual cohesive story. That scares me a bit. But over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading about the writing processes of several different published authors, one of those being Peter Carey’s early writing process for Oscar and Lucinda which gave me a glimpse of his early notes, and, honestly, they’re all over the place; muddy, incoherent, jumbled, etc… BUT! They’re detailed. They are evidence of the author scratching away at an idea that he can’t let go of, that his mind simply can’t abandon, that he’s desperate to beat into submission in one way or another, to form connections with, to uncover a truth. And really, the only way to do that is to write. Write whatever comes to you. Don’t mind the mess. Revel in it. See it for what it is: ideas out of the head and onto the page, words that you can actually do something with.
So, I guess this week, more than anything I feel encouraged. It doesn’t matter if my first drafts are utter crap, at least it’s something to work with. And while I knew that before, I guess I hadn’t quite accepted it to the point where I was no longer letting it stop me from putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and simply getting started.
I think I’ve finally let go of that fear. I no longer care so much about the mess. And that’s a bigger step than I realised.