By Paul Stevenson

Over at The Creative Penn last month Joanna Penn talked about finishing a first draft of her novel.  As every writer knows, whatever the genre, there’s a ton of pride that comes with getting to the end of a first draft. But Penn is quick to address:  it’s still only a first draft. There are re-writes and edits ahead. And besides which, she brings up an excellent point:

A while back I wrote about how writing is like Michelangelo creating David from a block of marble. The act of creation in turning a hulk of rock into a glorious sculpture. I was reminded of this at the Sydney Writer’s Festival when one of the speakers mentioned that writing a first draft is actually creating the marble itself, creating something out of nothing first. Then the subsequent rewrites and edits turn it from a block of stone into a beautiful sculpture.

I love that image.  Love it, love it, love it. The first draft is only the marble. If only every writer could get that thought into their heads – the first draft is not the finished sculpture, it’s the marble from which we start to work. It’s the starting point, and not the finish line. Certainly it’s a great accomplishment to create something from nothing. But a block of marble, while beautiful, is no David. It has nothing on the beauty of a well crafted script. A truly finished product.

I will be planting this image in every playwriting class I teach from now on.

  • http://www.TheCreativePenn.com Joanna

    Hi Lindsay, Thanks so much for the mention and I’m glad that image helped you. Finishing the first draft is an anticlimax because there is so far to go afterwards, but at least you have something to work with.

    Thanks, Joanna