Therapeutic Draft

Fountain Pen image copyright Dre Schwartz, iStockPhoto #000005330500

Almost everyone I meet admits to a book-writing dream, usually a flaming bestseller about what the aspiring author has suffered: twelve chapters detailing the ordeal, and one on the happy ending, the wisdom gained, or the call for justice. Let me encourage you to do exactly that; write it out of your system before it kills you. Writing is definitely therapeutic for the writer. Amy Hartl Sherman expressed it perfectly in her award-winning six-word memoir: “Write it down. Set it free.”

After you finish that draft, set it aside awhile. After purging a story onto the page—for our own benefit—we begin the real work: the insightful pruning and shaping for the reader. In the early drafts, you’re likely to be more focused on yourself than your reader, on the ordeal rather than the wisdom.

Remember my Yearbook Effect? Readers look for themselves in you. Can they relate? Because you’re in the same boat, or because you made it to safe ground and found a life preserver to throw them?

Writing is life-giving. First save yourself. Then decide whether it’s ready for the world.


Text © Gwyn Nichols 2010

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