I have a bone to pick with my writer buddies out there. Something that has been bothering me for some time. Something that makes me cringe whenever I see it. This sort of thing:
“Ugh, my writing is crap. This whole draft is crap. I am a terrible writer.”
It’s become almost a badge of honor to get on Twitter and bemoan your utter uselessness as a wordsmith. To whine about how much rubbish you write. Crap crap crap. That’s all it is. To tell others that their first drafts and probably crap, not because you’ve read them, but because all first drafts are crap.
When did it become the norm for us to be so hard on ourselves?
Maybe this makes me naive. Maybe it means I’m not a “true” writer. But I have never looked at a first draft in its entirety and said, “This is crap.” Because why would I? Why would I pour hours of my time, my sweat and tears, into something, and then proclaim it garbage? Why would I then spent countless MORE hours molding that crap?
I don’t know about you, but I have never looked at a piece of actual crap and said, “Right then, let’s see if we can make this into a beautiful sculpture.” It’s not motivating to me to berate myself.
Now. Are my first drafts ready for publication? Absolutely not. There is plenty of work still to be done. Like an artist who sketches the outline of a painting, or a sculptor who has to start out by molding it into a vague shape before the refining can begin, a writer has to have a starting point for revisions. And it’s going to be rough. Of course. But if the bones aren’t good, if it is, in fact, crap, then no amount of coaxing and molding is going to make it smell any better.
So why can’t we give ourselves a break? I would love to see a writer say, “Finished my first draft, and it’s a really good start!” Then I could start saying, “Finished my first draft. I am officially a genius,” and feel a little less bad about it.
Maybe this is just my incurable optimism. I have been *accused* of being the light side to someone’s dark. And I’m okay with that.
Writing is hard enough. What’s the point in making ourselves feel even worse? And think…would you say to another writer what you’re saying to yourself? How constructive would it be if a CP returned a chapter with notes that just said, “Crap. Rubbish. Idiotic. Seriously?” Find things to love about your drafts, and lovingly fix the things you don’t. What you did is the opposite of crap, whether it makes it into the final product or not. Respect your art. And respect yourself.