I hope you are having a wonderful start to spring. As I was cleaning out my closets and inboxes I stumbled upon an email I wrote specifically for one of my writers who was struggling with a first draft of a new screenplay. They gave me permission to share it. I hope it provides a little motivation and direction.
Hey There Writer,
I totally understand how frustrating it can be to feel like you have no idea where you are going in a first draft. That’s normal. Remember this is art - not algebra. The first draft is really just you discovering what the story is, what it wants to be. It is a time for you to tell the truth, surrender to the truth, be brave enough to allow your emotional truth to pour out onto the page. It is a time for emotional logic, not intellectual logic (that comes later) If you attempt to control and curate every part of a new experience you miss out of the actual experience.
Don't rob yourself of the excitement of not knowing what's around the next corner. (amazing how similar fear and excitement are) If you need to practice bravery and surrender they will help you more in a first draft than any kind of craft or logic. This is the time to surrender to your unconscious (the collective unconscious if you enjoy Jung) and remember that the unconscious speaks in metaphor and symbol. This is another reason why a first draft might look like it makes no sense. But when you take the time to interpret the symbols you realize it does and it is more powerful than anything you thought yourself capable of writing. If you cling to what you know, if you clutch to complete control, you rob yourself of the thing you need most to create great art. Writing a first draft is like falling in love. You can only do so through bravery, vulnerability, surrender, and time.
Later drafts are when you take care of things like page count, joke density, clean formatting, scene structure, character orchestration, theme, dialectics, etc. It’s like cooking, when you add in what ingredients has an effect on the taste of the food. So when that nagging voice pops up and says “this looks messy” or “you haven’t figured out the normal world yet” just respectfully let that voice know that eventually yes you will work on those things, but right now, today, we are working on surrendering to the great adventure that is diving into the artistic soul and discovery what story wants to be told.
Always Keep Writing,
Written by a dyslexic, proof read by an apathetic foreigner.
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The Science & Art of Writing was founded by award winning writer & certified yoga instructor Jessica Hinds.