In a recent comment about writing queries, Sonya mentioned “the sprawling brain-dump of a first draft.”
I love that phrase. (Gee, you’d think she was a writer or something.)
Here’s the thing. I’ve had a germ of an idea for a novel for some years. I even wrote nine chapters of it and put it on my former writing journal (now purged and locked and all that) for people to comment on. And then, because I couldn’t see where it was going and I’m not great at outlining, I dropped it. A couple years later, I came back to the idea, wrote a full plot outline for it, did a bunch of research and reading about the craft involved (glassmaking and glassblowing), world-built a bit more, rewrote the first few chapters…and dropped it again.
For some reason, I’m frightened I’ll wreck this book by writing it. And obviously the fear has grown the longer I sit on the idea. It’s such a stupid, hilarious fear, since all I have to do to save this (obviously amazing, groundbreaking, award-winning, envy-inspiring) book is to not write it. How ridiculous.
But I’m also bothered when I see published fantasy books that feature glassmaking. (Because envy is totally the best policy.) I’m bothered when I think about the idea, and the words that I’ve already written (and still like!) and the bits of the story that come to me. Then I think that I’m just a slow writer and I need to take my time. That the fear I’m feeling is actually my brain saying No. It’s not ready, and you WILL wreck it if you write it before you give it a bit more thought. I wish I was better at knowing when to say, shut up, brain and just start–and finish writing the damn thing. No, not that. Finish writing the FIRST DRAFT of the damn thing.
So I promptly started a first draft of something else.
I realize this is bad writer behavior. I can only hope that one day the idea will just demand to be written.