I read Stephen King's 'On Writing' on holiday this summer. This book is well worth a read with advice on all aspects of writing. It was so good that I'll read it again soon and make notes. However, the first part is autobiographical and it takes a few chapters to get to the bits which are especially useful. I could write a whole series of blog posts about the points Stephen King makes (and maybe I will), but this week the point most relevant to me is about showing the first draft to a writing class.He says:
'The pressure to explain is always on, and a lot of creative energy, it seems to me, is therefore going in the wrong direction. You find yourself constantly questioning your prose and your purpose when what you should probably be doing is writing as fast as the Ginger-bread Man runs, getting that first draft down on paper while the shape of the fossil is still bright and clear in your mind.'
Last year I started my first draft of Book 2, 'The Painting' and went to a few writing classes, using the novel for homework exercises. This part was useful as it gave me ideas on where to take the plot. But when it came to reading out my homework in class, the subsequent analysis seemed to hinder my progression. I began to analyse what I'd written instead of getting the story down without thinking too much about it.
I must point out that these writing classes were great for me in many ways. I hadn't written a first draft for a few years and I wanted to do timed exercises to regain my confidence. Also my fellow students and teacher were lovely and I've kept in touch with some of them (Hello if you're reading!). I enjoy spending time with other writers and it's comforting when someone in a class says, 'I don't feel like writing at the moment and don't know how to get back into it...' It's good to know I'm not the only one who has to put the kitchen timer next to my computer and make myself write for twenty minutes sometimes.
In hindsight, I should have used the class for writing about other stuff, keeping Book 2 to myself until I'd completed the first draft.
So now I'm aiming to complete the first draft of Book 2 ('The Painting') by Christmas so I can submit an edited version to The RNA's New Writers' Scheme next summer (as long as I'm lucky enough to get onto the scheme again). I shall continue with my quest to get Book 1 ('The Grandson') published, but in the meantime I need to produce another novel.
I'd be interested to read your comments on first drafts or on anything relating to the above.