Monday, October 3, 2011

Don’t Throw Away Your First Draft!

Botticelli – Study for "The Allegory of Abundance"
My writing methods are old-fashioned. I write my first draft by hand on yellow legal pads. It is illegible to anyone but myself and sometimes, even to me. However, I never throw it away, at least not until the book is in print. Why?

Because, with all its misspellings, grammatical errors, clichés and structural problems, it also has the energy, the spark, the originality that belongs to the first telling of every story.

My father was an artist — a painter, a print-maker, and a teacher. He taught History of Art and Studio Art at a college in Pennsylvania. Whenever there was an exhibit of preliminary drawings and sketches by great painters, in Manhattan, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC, he urged his students to go see it. “These early drawings will have a vibrancy, an energy, and a freshness that is sometimes lost in the finished masterpiece — after all the refining and polishing takes place,” he said.

The same applies to writing, I think. So hang onto that first draft, turn to it once in awhile when you are revising and polishing your manuscript. Make sure you haven’t polished away something important such as that electric charge that compelled you to tell the story in the first place!

Robin Hathaway

1 comment:

  1. I love your words about first inspiration - that electric charge - you are such a wise woman. thelma