Piles of sand, not much castle

As I mentioned earlier, I am in the midst of writing my next book. It’s in the early stages of the first draft (not even a title yet) and each day is a bit of a slog. I’ve tried to make my peace with the first draft always being a bucket of hot garbage, but it can still be frustrating. One might say that labelling my work in progress “hot garbage” could contribute to morale problems.

So, I’m working to use an alternate metaphor for the first draft. I came across this Twitter quote from author Shannon Hale (@haleshannon), and it might fit the bill:

“When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I’m only shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.”

This is a tad more flowery than I normally like, but I’ll give it a test drive. It doesn’t mean that the process of shovelling sand isn’t also frustrating. You know that the sand is just gonna pour out of the scoop into a heap, but you secretly long for it to magically coalesce into the structures floating around in your imagination. There’s no magic here, though. Just work.

It’s a lot like choosing to stumble into the woods without a compass or a plan. You push through scratching brambles and slip down muddy embankments without any sense of which direction you’re going in. Every step might be taking you far away from your destination. But once and a while, you crest a hill that rises above the tree cover and you see the landscape spilling out towards the end of your journey. The promise of finding the end of the story and being able to retell it is enough to send you back into the brush and weeds to keep plodding forward.

To all of my fellow writers near and far, plod on!

Published by Chris

I'm an author, freelance writer, dad, and civic busybody living in London, Ontario

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