The sole function of the Creator Hat is to get the story from your head to the blank pages in front of you, ie., to create the first draft. Without the first draft completed, you have an idea unresolved, and nothing more.
The Creator is the urgency stage when you’re cold, in need of warmth and first stoke the fires of creativity—The Burning Stage. The first draft is when your characters start to become people, friends, and the world you envision begins to take on life. Do Not Stop writing, and do not take time to read anything except the last paragraph or page to get the writer’s blood pumping so as to continue the story. Getting to the end is the goal, and putting on your Reader or Editor’s hat at this point will derail any effort to finish. Note: The second novel in my trilogy has reached the ½ point as to the plot, but only amassed 30,000 words—about ¼ of the planned length. That is to be expected because life will be breathed into the book during future phases.
As with each stage of writing a novel, only one hat can be worn at a time; however, the other hats will vie for attention, insisting they are the best choice. It is imperative you ignore the prompting to either read of edit during the first draft. The Editor Hat, especially, will try to take over. You must fight the urge.
The First Draft will likely be drivel, and that’s okay; the goal is to finish the piece of writing and not worry about the prose during this stage. As you write more, the drivel will miraculously improve. Why? Because you are going to put on the Reader’s Hat, then the Editor’s again and again during the writing so that their unique skills will color the Burning Stage the more you do it. The next first draft will be clearer and crisper, which gives the Reader and Editor less to do. Isn’t that perfect? Improvement by repetition. Who would have thought?
If you have constructed an outline, follow it but do not force yourself to adhere when other ideas (plot twists, introduction of an unplanned character, etc.) appear on the page. The most important thing about the first draft is to get the words on paper, understanding much will have to be discarded, or at minimum, totally revised—that’s okay and expected.
When writing, and you come to a section that does not feel quite right, move on. If I hit a wall during the writing, I do several things to propel me toward completion. Often, my ideas are scenes without a transition to the next section, so I put a (TR) to indicate I need to come back and deal with the timeline within the text. While writing the first draft, weak verbs (used repeatedly) will avail themselves, words like walked (strolled, ambled, strode, etc.) and I will put other verbs in parenthesis to highlight the need to think more about those choices.
When stuck, I will jump to a scene planned for later in the novel and write that which is burning to be written. I find that after having done so, I am ready to attack the section that gave me trouble.
These are the main things I do during the Creator Stage:
- Develop the plot with a definitive beginning, middle, and end.
- Define the characters: this includes conflicts (internal and external), their personalities and how they deal with life’s problems (both small and large) which gives them a well-rounded feel.
- Explain the world in which my characters live. Writing mostly fantasy, world-building is a large part of my process. At the outset, I have a map drawn and the specific places the story will happen. I also will have notes on the different cultures populating my world, though each of these aspects is rudimentary at this point.
- I also devise a calendar with the highlights and the general timeline of my story. I neglected to do this part in The Returning, and found I had to revamp after finishing the draft, which took me an inordinate amount of time that would have been better served concentrating on a different function.
The Creator Hat, for me, is the most enjoyable while offering the most potential problems. The Editor can transform into the Critic, comments like, “You’re not good enough,” “Nobody will want to read it,” “You have no talent” streaming through your consciousness with vexing vengeance. All writers face these doubts to one degree or another. It’s difficult, but ignore the Critic who has no place in artistic expression. Look at the writing that sells and you will realize your writing is better than much of what is published. Embrace that, and embrace that every word typed is improvement, no matter what it seems like at the time.
Now, go write that first draft and take comfort in the knowledge that with each keystroke you are honing your craft. It is truly an amazing thing.
Ideas and techniques you have for pushing through the first draft? Comment and share with other Knights of Writ readers.
This Week’s Quote:
“Don’t look up or down. Look at the page in front of you and nail it.” James Scott Bell