I had every intention of making a post about just what the title says…for about 10 seconds. I gave up on this idea because as I was walking, mapping out what I would say in my head I realized: nothing I would write for you could ever have the perfection or hit the mark nearly as well as the glorious little piece by Anne Lamott, so I implore you to read this piece about first drafts that I honestly don’t believe anyone can top.
I did the favor of finding it for you (actually it was the first link I came to on Google, but let’s not talk about that).
Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott
If you’re new to writing, clichés can be hard to spot, even after the years I have spent studying literature and writing, I still find myself falling into the hole of the cliché. I always go back to revise my writing, but even after multiple readings and reworkings, sometimes it’s other people who catch my mistake. Why do you want to avoid clichés? The main reason: clichés make writing boring. There are a lot of clichés out there in many forms and because there are so many of them, it’s impossible to list them all. For now let’s go over why we should avoid them.
Metaphors and Similes
If you’re reading a phrase or a metaphor that you are very familiar with, it isn’t going to make an impression on you. Chances are if you describe someone’s sweater as being, snow-white, the reader isn’t going to really think about what the sweater looks like. The reader has heard this phrase so many times that he will just read right past it. These kind of phrases will end up ruining your descriptions. When people aren’t paying attention to what they are reading they aren’t seeing images in their head, and as we have discussed before (Details Details Details!), description is what separates the good writers from the bad. Avoiding Cliches in Writing has a list of some clichés that you can keep an eye out for.
Clichés in plot are a little harder to spot,
I’m not sure who wrote it, or where I read it, but I distinctly remember reading an article (probably on the internet) in which the author told the readers that he/she didn’t believe moments of sudden inspiration really existed. That they may feel like grand inspired moments, but later it turns out they were shit. I remember being quite offended by the article and angry at the author. If I hadn’t been able to calm myself down, I probably would have ended up hunting the author’s contact information down and writing an angry letter. Of course, when I read this I was about 13 or 14 and even though I was well on my way to becoming serious about writing, I didn’t yet understand the good advice in this rather horrid article.
Is Sudden Inspiration a Real Thing?
Some writers might say no. They might say that these moments aren’t really leading to anything substantial in the end. I would disagree. Whether your moment of borderline crazy writing ends up leading to anything or not, it is important to get it out. If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you probably understand the sensation of an idea constantly rattling around in your head. If you have an idea like this, even if you can admit that it’s a terrible one, you need to get it down and out of your head. Until you do this it will be difficult to think of anything else. Once your all-consuming inspiration is down on paper, give it a few days and then go back to it and read it over. Then you can adequately decide if the idea is worth while or not. Even if the writing itself isn’t so great, the idea still might be worth saving. After all, it is just a first draft.
It’s difficult to write sometimes if you don’t have inspiration. The consuming, manic inspiration might not be very common, but without any inspiration at all, it kind of makes a person want to bang their head against the wall. As tempting as that might be (sometimes the keyboard looks particularly inviting too) there are some things you can do to help that are a little more constructive.