Alas, no permalinks for Charles Deemer, working writer? Then he must be quoted here in entirety I'm afraid from The Writing Life.
Writing, art, music
The creative process in writing has complications as a result of a fact that differs writing from all other creative media: the language of analysis is the same as the language of creation, words. Imagine if musical criticism was delivered -- in music! Or art critics reviewed an artist -- by painting! Because we use words to discuss what is created in words, it's more difficult to get the same kind of distance that analysis obtains in art and music. Using words to discuss music, using words to discuss visual art, are one thing -- and using words to discuss literary art (also words) quite another.
This also puts false pressure on beginning writers. For example, as a matter of course, artists sketch before they start the "real" painting, and musicians as a matter of course fiddle around the keyboard or instrument, just goofing off, looking for a thread that will lead to something more than fiddling. Beginning writers, in contrast, take themselves so seriously in their first drafts! Few beginners approach initial writing as sketching or doodling or fiddling around. I think this is because the language of analysis is the same as the language of the art, not providing an obvious distance between the two acts.
The result of this is that beginning writers are too hard on themselves too early. So what if the first draft sucks? An artist doesn't worry about a rough sketch that sucks, a musician doesn't worry about fiddling around on the keyboard sucking. It's just fiddling around, after all. Beginning writers tend not to fiddle around. They tend to believe the early writing must be really good, really perfect, and if it isn't, they tend to get disappointed or depressed when there's no reason to.
I used to do this all the time early in my career. Then I had the good fortune to see some first drafts by famous, established literary giants and saw first hand how bad they could be. What a revelation! Faulkner sucked! Steinbeck sucked! What they did, is they took these terrible first and early drafts and kept rewriting them until they didn't suck. This was a great lesson in the creative process for me. It's one I try to instill in my students very early.
11:18 AM Thursday, February 06, 2003