Every book began with a first draft. And they were all flawed, riddled with typos, plot holes, cliches, and bad ideas.
Even the greats. Even your favorites.
Every once in a while you can find early drafts of big, important books, and they are almost always terrible. Sometimes they can offer insight into the creative process of the author, which can be interesting, but is not for the faint of heart.
Working with a writers group, you read a lot of early drafts, and subject your fellow writers to a lot of yours. That’s why it’s easier to work in a group with some reciprocity. It’s easier to let people see your ugly process if you’ve seen theirs. You will feel naked and exposed, but so will they. It’s like a less sexy but no less intimate version of lovemaking.
To further extend the metaphor, writing tends to be more rewarding the more you sweat.
So if you are reading early drafts, or producing your own and asking others to look at them, understand the feeling of vulnerability, leaving yourself open, being naked in front of a crowd. But understand that this is how all writers feel, and everybody’s early draft needs work.
I’ll leave you with the words of two literary giants:
Ernest Hemingway, who reassured a new writer that “the first draft of anything is shit,” and Canada’s poet laureate Red Green, who tells us “Just remember. I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”