Last week as we did here on GITS, the Quest writers focused on the sixth and final week of Prep. Today’s dispatch: Scott considers the transition to FADE IN:
I am the reigning king of second-guessing myself. If I had to rank all the things I’m good at, that would come in first on the all-time list. Second? Pretending I didn’t eat all that ice cream just now. Are you sure you bought it? Because I looked in the freezer just minutes ago and didn’t see any ice cream.
As you’ve heard if you’ve been following along at home, we’re wrapping up the “Prep” phase of the Quest. This was the last week of Prep, and next week we jump in to pages. In the preceding week, I’ve gone from loving my idea to hating about a hundred times. I’ve made it different, only to have it circle back to being what I originally thought of. I’ve been super sure of who my characters are, only to have them tell me that I don’t have it quite right, on more than one occasion. Waves of doubt have been crashing over the shores of my story as I’ve worked on the final outline and prepared to start writing pages.
Am I ready to start typing pages? Even yesterday I would have said “no”. Tomorrow I will probably say “no” if you ask me at the right time. But right now I’m putting my rational brain in charge and it’s telling me that I’m about to embark on a first draft. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t have to know every single thing. If I did, I’d have written the whole thing already. I’m going to discover as I go. But the important fact is, it’s a first draft. It’s going to get rewritten. Not only does it not have to be perfect, it has absolutely no chance of being so.
Now that we’re on the precipice of typing FADE IN I’m fighting back those doubts. You see, I’m pretty happy with about 90% of what I think my story is. There’s about 10% that’s still a little fuzzy. And in the course of the last 13 weeks I’ve gone full circle, from wishing I could just start typing pages and get it out there, to really leaning into the prep process and excavating my story from the carbonite in which it’s encased, to, just this week, wishing I had even more prep time, because I wasn’t confident enough in my story. But now I’m back to champing at the bit. I want to to write that opening scene so bad I can taste it.
So, for me, my fellow Questers, and everyone playing along on the home version, I just want to say this: give yourself permission to write a less than perfect first draft. Don’t second-guess yourself out of it. Go for it. You’ve done your prep work. You worked hard on your characters and your plots and your themes. Now it’s time to get in there and go for it.
Fade in, guys.
Good luck, Scott, and to all the Questers, both the group of eight with whom I have been working these last four months and those of you who are participating in Go On Your Own Quest.
About Scott: Brooklyn based writer and comedian who bailed on software to focus on writing words that humans could read. Twitter: @scottadhoc.