Keeping Score: 13 May 2022

I’ve written a new short story!

Last Saturday I turned a corner, mood-wise. After not being able to write for six months, I sat down and hammered out the first draft of a new flash piece. The story is something I’d been mulling over for a while; I had the genre (noir/crime) and a line of dialog, but that’s it.

But Saturday morning I sat down and told myself to write something, anything, even if it was crap. And the whole story came tumbling out of me.

It’s a huge relief, to know that I can still do it. Even if the draft is terrible, it exists, it’s mine, and that means I’m not hopeless as a writer just yet.

I’ve spent the week since working on a “Draft 1.5”, as I’m thinking of it. I’m still too close to the story to properly edit it into a second draft, but as soon as I was done with the first draft I started seeing areas where I needed to go back, add depth or look for a more creative angle.

In particular, the motive for the crime bothered me. The one in the first draft felt too pat, too cliché. Not real enough.

So one morning I took out my little notebook and went through the characters in the story, one by one, and wrote a description — personality, circumstances, and appearance — for each. I had only vague ideas of the characters when I started, but by the end of the exercise I had them firmly fixed in my mind, along with a better motive, and plot changes to reflect that.

Thus I’ve begun another draft to incorporate those changes. I know there’ll be more drafts after this one, including a proper second once I’ve let the story sit for a couple weeks. But for now I want to make this first draft a little stronger.

If you’re struggling with writing, and not sure you can hack it anymore, let me reassure you: You can! You might just need a break, or to try a different genre, or a different format. Me, I needed all three, including permission from a writing instructor to drop my current project altogether. It’s scary to contemplate, but liberating in the end.

Go forth and write messy drafts, write bad dialog, and create some one-dimensional characters. Whatever it takes to get the words out, to get your mind working on the story. You can always, always, clean it up later, but you can’t do anything without that first draft. So get to it 🙂

Written with: Ulysses

Under the influence of: “Model Citizen,” Meet Me @ the Altar