I write rough drafts in my notebooks these days. It gets me away from my perfectionist impulses, lets me embrace the idea of scribbling out a crude and ugly scene that will get fixed up when I type it into the computer.
Except I don’t really look at the notebooks when it comes time to sit at the keyboard. I just sit and rewrite the entire story, based on the rough beats I remember from the notebook. Everything else is basically written anew, fleshing out as I go.
It feels inefficient. I keep sitting down and wondering if it’s time to go back to the computer for everything, or if its time to try doing rougher sketches in the notebook rather than trying to write full scenes.
It feels inefficient, but it’s not. Notebooks are the perfect place to write that messy, ugly zero draft. They’re the perfect place to dump this stuff out there, figure out what the story isn’t so I can start paying attention to the thing that it probably is.
And the best chance of figuring out if it really is inefficient isn’t halfway through the draft. It’s when I’m done, and I’m starting a brand new project, and I can set up new habits around it.
I’ve built my habits for a reason, turned them into a process that seems to be working. My brain doesn’t trust that, but then, my brain is full of bad wiring and treats writing like an antidepressant.
I have a bunch of rules to live by these days: sleep is non-negotiable; always order the pork belly.
Increasingly, I’m adding this one to the list: trust in the process; the brain doesn’t get a vote.