Sometimes I Wish I Had A Pattern to Follow

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how much I hate writing first drafts. That hasn’t changed. I’m two-thirds of the way through this first draft, and it’s torture. I know I’ll have to cut a lot of what I’ve written, and that drives me crazy. I’m the kind of person who wants it all to be perfect the first time, and it’s hard to make myself let the little things go along the way and power through to the end. I’m sticking to it, though. I will finish this first draft, and then I can tinker to my heart’s content.

Cinderella cross-stitchIt’s funny, though, because about the same time I started this draft, I also started a new cross-stitch project, and I have a completely different attitude toward it. I’m excited every time I pick it up. With each new stitch, I see another part of the picture emerging.

I like intricate scenes that take a year or more to complete. I work on them while I watch TV because I can’t stand sitting there with nothing to do. I’m amazed at the people who design these scenes. How do they know which two colors to mix to create just the right blend? How do they know that placing one stitch in that spot will make all the difference to the overall picture? I just follow the directions, but I appreciate the artistry that goes into creating the pattern.

And that’s where I think the difference is. When I’m drafting, I have the overall picture in mind, but I don’t know the details yet. No matter how extensive of an outline I do in advance, I still have to fill in a lot of blanks. I don’t know what hint I need to plant in the first chapter, what exactly the main character will say in chapter five, or how the character will react in the final climax. I won’t know those things until I get the story out of my head and onto the computer.

Sometimes I wish I had a pattern to follow, but then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to revise. That’s the part I enjoy–figuring out how to make all the pieces fit together once the messy part is finished. So until I get through the sloppy first draft, I’ll enjoy the fact that someone else has already figured them out for my latest cross-stitch project. And when I’m finished, I’ll display it like the two I’ve included in this post, both of which hang in my daughter’s room. I hope someday I’ll be able to display the results of my writing on the walls, too.

How do you cope with getting through the parts of writing–or anything–you don’t enjoy?

Responses to “Sometimes I Wish I Had A Pattern to Follow”

  1. rocha harris

    I’m the Total oppsite…. I write when Im in the mood…. A “Mood Writer” would have been better to say.. Are you interested in growing as a writer

  2. T.Y.

    Hi Michelle! I found your blog via last month’s Operation Awesome Secret Agent entries (I was also a fellow contestant–Devil’s Violin stuck as an awesome premise! ) and have been lurking ever since. I totally feel your pain as first drafts are not my favorite part of the writing process and *huge groan* I should be drafting right now… I think I heard someone say that first drafts are like slapping down clay so you’d have something to mold. When I hit my stride, I enjoy it, but like you, I’d much rather be revising.

    Anyway, I’m participating in GUTGAA too as well as Pitch Madness. See you there!

    • Michelle Mason

      What a great analogy! That’s exactly how I feel. I’m getting close to the end now, so it’s taking better shape for me. Then I can go back and mold the beginning into focus. Thanks for stopping by!


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