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Posts Tagged ‘Rough Drafts’

When you frost a cake — warning, metaphor in progress — you don’t make it beautiful first. You don’t form attractive little swirls or make sugar roses to put onto the bare cake. You don’t put ripples in the sides or create little waves and peaks on the top. Not yet. That comes later.
 
The FIRST step is to slather on a rough layer of frosting. There’s no real technique to it. You just dump a big portion of the stuff out onto the cake and mush it down roughly. Even professional chefs do this. You just blop it on there. Blop. Mush. Smear.
 
You get all the frosting on there first, and then you go back and start smoothing it out. Then you make your swirls and your ripples and your professional-looking sugar roses.
 
I’ve always had a hard time with the “inefficiency” of writing a rough draft. Deep down, no matter how much I tell myself otherwise, I always want to write it perfect from the get-go, so that I don’t have to revise. The error in my thinking is my assumption that writing it “perfect” is in some way efficient. But the frosting metaphor makes it clearer to me. If you try to “frost it perfect,” you WILL create re-work for yourself. You’ll have to overwrite and demolish the stuff you worked so painstakingly on, in the course of frosting the whole cake. It just makes logical, obvious, boneheaded sense to frost it roughly first, and then do the fancy stuff once that’s done.
 
Plus, of course, writing painstakingly is PAINSTAKING! It’s not fun! So I find reasons not to do it. I get all caught up in the anxieties of it all, and I have an awful time during my writing sessions, and then I don’t look forward to it. It’s because I’m trying to write a story made out of perfect little sugar roses. It doesn’t work.
 
Slather. Dump. Get your frosting out there. Make a mess. Have fun with it.

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