Stuff Writers Like

Stuff Writers Think

The Drafting Process

The drafting stage is fraught with distracting, terrifying thoughts. Writers navigate mazes of doubts and uncertainty, sure only of the fact that a completed manuscript is waiting somewhere at the finish line. We beat ourselves up, questioning every scene and every sentence. And then there’s the procrastination, followed by a whirlwind writing session after which we collapse onto the couch in a daze.

The drafting process can be rough, but we’re in this together. Here’s some of the stuff writers think while they’re getting their words on paper.

“My inner editor is such a jerk.”

During the drafting phase, we spend a lot of time cursing our inner editor. Here’s how that conversation goes.

Inner Editor: Stop! Stop! Oh dear god, a typo.

Writer: It doesn’t matter. It’s a draft.

Inner Editor: You’d better fix that. And while you’re at it, fix that plot hole a few chapters back.

Writer: I’ll fix it later. I have to finish the draft.

Inner Editor: Right, okay. It’s going to be an awful draft with that attitude.

Writer: *grinds teeth* I just need to finish the draft. Finish the draft…

Inner Editor: Ha! There’s another typo.

This conversation usually takes place in a coffee shop, with lots of people around to stare and think you’re crazy.

“Oh my god, it’s almost November.”

About September 12 it starts happening. Writers all over the world die a little inside. Our hands start shaking, and our eyes dart around rooms like nervous drug addicts. Because we know—even if we don’t look at a calendar, we sense that it’s almost National Novel Writing Month. We do it every year, and every year we promise ourselves it’ll never happen again. Yes, the people are great. And yes, we get lots of writing done. But is it really worth it?

If you’re in the drafting phase, chances are you’ve at least considered NaNoWriMo. It’s a great way to get your words down and force that inner editor to be quiet. But on December 1, we all think the same thing: “That was terrible, and I am never doing that again. Until next year, I mean.”

“I have so much to do besides write.”

When the writing becomes difficult—or we just get tired—we start making mental to-do lists. And sometimes physical lists.

  • Wash the car
  • Clean the oven
  • Learn to bake
  • Oil the door hinges
  • Buy stamps
  • Find the post office
  • Remember how to address envelops
  • Mail glitter bombs to old bosses

Our procrastination game is strong. Even though writing is the only thing we want to do, sometimes we’d do anything to keep from writing. (We’re not logical creatures.) One positive aspect of writer’s block—your house will be spotless.

“The government is going to come after me one day.”

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Our search history gets crazy. After a heavy research session, we stare at the computer screen and think, Yep, the government’s definitely coming after me this time. I can’t just keep researching different ways to kill people, how to dispose of a body, and how to do it without getting caught. I know they’re watching.

You clear your search history about twelve times, but you know Google knows more about you than you do. It’s only a matter of time.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Think and Draft

Drafting is a messy business, and the more we think, the messier it gets. Sometimes we don’t have complete control over our thoughts—and “sometimes” of course means always—but we try to control them when we can. No matter what, remember you’re not alone. Writerly brains have been turning in circles for years, and I don’t see them settling down any time soon. Just enjoy the ride, and try to get a good story out of it!

Photo by Eelke

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Victoria Griffin

Victoria was born and raised within sight of the Smoky Mountains. She loves any place you can still see the stars and constantly struggles with (and sometimes succumbs to) the temptation to write "ain't" and y'all." To connect with or hire Victoria, visit her website,
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August 16, 2017
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