Mario Villalobos

Zero Draft

  • Notes

I admit, National Blog Posting Month is kicking my ass.

Part of the issue is finding the time to write. Here’s a rough accounting of my daily routine:

  • Wake up at 5am
  • At my desk with a cup of coffee and writing in my notebook at around 5:20am
  • Finish writing at around 6:20am-6:30am
  • Study German and Japanese until 7am
  • Leave for work at 7:10am
  • Work from 7:10am to around 4:15pm
  • Come home 15 minutes later, change into my workout clothes and start my workout at around 4:30pm
  • Shower, make my post-workout shake, and relax by watching TV, starting at around 5:15pm and going until dinner
  • Cook dinner and eat it, 6pm to 7pm
  • Write???
  • Go to bed at around 8:30pm to 9pm

It’s a bit after 7:30pm as I’m writing this now, and my eyes are heavy, I’m tired, and I want to go to bed. It doesn’t help that I didn’t sleep well last night. I’ve been having trouble sleeping all year, and I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to go to bed earlier and earlier so I can get as much sleep as I could. Frankly, I need 8-9 hours of sleep a night or I’m miserable. And I feel miserable tonight.

I’m trying to build this second writing habit, and quitting now isn’t going to help me. I. Must. Keep. Going.

Warren Ellis wrote about the zero draft last week. The zero draft

is the draft you will never show anyone. It’s the draft you know is wrong but which contains the bare bones and meat-scraps of the story you’re trying to write. Get to the end of the zero draft, wait a day, and then go back and make it readable to other humans and fix all the egregiously wrong stuff, and that’s your first draft. Zero drafts are always too short: they fill out in the process of revising into a first draft. Stop thinking about your first draft as a first draft, call it a zero draft, and you give yourself permission to just slap everything you’re thinking about on to the page, knowing you can fix it before you have to inflict the draft on some other poor bastard.

I like this a lot. This is my zero draft. All the posts I’ve written for NaBloPoMo thus far feel like zero drafts to me. Sitting down at 7pm to write something and posting it online an hour later doesn’t feel like it deserves to be more than just a zero draft. Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe.

Did I mention I’m tired?

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Maybe I’m trying to bite off more than I can chew. I did give this project very little thought, after all. Writing is something I love, though, and I want to work on being a better writer. But when I have bills that need to be paid and a life that wants to be lived… it’s tough. It’s really tough.