At the Ancient City Chapter of the Florida Writer’s Association meeting held in St. Augustine yesterday, guest speaker Michael Ray King did a powerful workshop suitable for new writers and those of us with much more experience. Maybe too much experience!
Mike has become a powerful writing coach and a highly effective speaker. When we first met he was a very talented and powerful writer, learning to be comfortable with coloring outside the lines. His expanded expertise is exciting and energizing to be around. And, he made an impact with the writers at the meeting, for sure. This one included.
In speaking about writing the first draft of anything, Mike encouraged us to JUST WRITE THE *^%$# THING. Don’t censor it, worry about the grammer, anyone’s opinion, or the rules you learned in 7th grade about what makes for “good” writing. Your first draft of anything will be unsuitable for anyone else’s eyes anyway – so just get it written. Enjoy the freedom of NO RULES, NO CENSORS, NO RIGHT OR WRONG! Write your truth with passion and without apology! That enjoyment will carry over into your writing and you’ll find yourself – and your words – energized.
Several of us, who are multi-published, remarked to one another later that we’d once written that way, before we attempted “good” drafts, making deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise) or surviving critique group comments regarding that first draft. Mike’s advice on that? Don’t give it to your critique group before you’ve given it a good edit!
THE DRAFT is your truth. Raw, visceral, necessary – it’s the essential starting place. As Nora Roberts has told thousands of writers at conferences over the years, “You can’t edit a blank page.” And as a professional developmental editor, I can confirm that. But the more powerful the draft, the more powerful the finished product will be. Fiction or non, it makes no difference. People can only be reached through their hearts – and writing your truth will enable you to write with the power and emotion you need to do that.
Mike also pointed out that the road to publication will also include self and professional editing, and a plan for marketing your book. “You won’t sell any book that you aren’t excited about,” he said, mentioning how he’d lost his passion for his first book, FATHERHOOD 101, long before it was released. “It became about the words and the deadline, not the topic, though I never meant that to happen,” he told us. “I never marketed that book because I was sick of it.” If we’re going to be successful in selling our work, speaking to others is essential to that success. If we’re not excited about it, we won’t tell anyone about it all.
So, I’ll share Mike’s message here. Whatever it is that you are writing, PLEASE enjoy the journey and experiences of your first draft. Let the joy, the anger, the excitement, and the disappointments of your topic or plot carry you away and just write it all down. You can fit it into your genre and have it conform to the norms of the publishing world in the editing phases with the help of knowledgeable professionals – not to worry. But if you don’t start with a passionate manuscript, all is lost before you get out of the gate.
Have a terrific week. Enjoy what you read and write and keep going!