When I began writing I knew I knew nothing. I read the great classics and dreamed of my novel taking up residence on the shelf next to them. However, when I read The Brothers Karamazov or Great Expectations I realized how little I understood of the writing process. I had a passion for my story, a love of good fiction and a laptop. That was all.
Fast forward eight years later and I am near the point of my novel transforming into what I have wanted it to be. Why eight years? Well, I’d like to say I was developing a mind blowing series that will reshape the world of writing as we know it. But let’s be honest. I was too busy making mistakes and paddling upstream. I did not write as I should have. I spent weeks mulling over one sentence or phrase. After a while (eight drafts later) I realized I should be just writing, and rediscovering the joy which editing has robbed.
I was given a book for Christmas by Ray Bradbury. It is a collection of essays titled Zen and the Art of Writing. The first essay is called The Joy of Writing. In it Mr Bradbury suggests that after you have tackled the literary techniques and grammatical principles, you need to break free and just write. Edit later.
He sums it up like this:
…This afternoon, burn down the house. Tomorrow, pour cold critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today – explode – fly apart – disintegrate! The other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the word who, reading your story, will catch fire, too?” (Zen and the Art of Writing, Bradbury, pg 7)
So, if you are just getting words on the page for the first time, I would encourage you to do one thing. Write. Do not sit down and edit the previous thing you’ve written before you continue, just do it. Just write. Write because you love it. Write because it has to be written. Write because of the pure joy you find in doing it.