Thursday, July 23, 2015

What Draft Am I as a Writer?

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverbendSagas

What draft as I as a writer?
Writers think in terms of drafts. Not those that come in around windows and doors in the winter. But those we write. One of the axioms among fiction writers is write the first draft completely before doing any editing. We know it’s going to be mostly junk but get it done to get the junk out, to have something to work with.

Michelangelo couldn’t carve David until he had a hunk of marble and chipped away everything that didn’t look like David. Our first draft is that hunk of marble. The subsequent drafts are our chipping away until the David that is our story stands before us.

When we rewrite, we find within that junk nuggets of plot, setting, and character that are worth keeping. We find pieces of wordsmithing that sing and soar and have to stay.

Then we rewrite again, three, four, five and even more drafts. Each one whittles and chips the extraneous, making the story tighter, the characters more alive, the setting more vibrant. More chunks of brilliant wordsmithing emerge. The novel gets better and better until it’s done.

We call it our work-in-progress, our WIP.

In my meditation time recently…by the way, I wasn’t sequestered in some room with votive candles and choirs of monks intoning solemn hymns. I was in my car, driving between writers group meetings, listening to Celtic Woman. Point being, we can meditate with God anywhere.

Anyway, back from the rabbit trail. It struck me that, in many ways, I am God’s WIP. When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I wasn’t instantly perfect. An angel didn’t descend from heaven, bop me on the head, and say “Shazam!”

In this Christian walk, I go through seasons and changes. Some are terrifying and heart breaking—losing a son, a job, a dear friend. Some are exhilarating—birth of a child, the first grandchild, publishing the first book.

All are places where we can be edited, where God can do a work that makes us stronger for ourselves, for our families, for him.

Ultimately, we are not only the WIP being edited, we are the final editor.

It is our choice to accept and implement the opportunities for growth he is offering. He offers, he doesn’t force.

We choose to take those edits and apply them as Michelangelo applied the chisel to the granite until we see ourselves as God sees us. 

Or we don’t. And, when we don’t, something goes unfinished. In us. And in his plan.


Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. He serves as Associate Director of North Texas Christian Writers. Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers. Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.


  1. I love this. I've always referred to myself as a WIP a God shapes me into the image of His Son.. :-)

    1. Thank you, Patricia. Sometimes, when God is shaping me, I'm too much a hunk of granite instead of being clay for his hands. But I'm working on it. And I'm grateful for his eternal patience with me.

  2. Great analogy. We are Gods masterpiece. Thank you for the reminder. I truly needed it today.

    1. Thanks, Cherrilynn. I'm blessed you found the blog helpful.

  3. I love the term "wordsmithing" - it captures the art and craft of writing perfectly! What draft am I? Probably a very rough draft, maybe the second as I'm too old to be a first, ha! Truly a WIP, but the Master's refining work is steadily having its way over my rough spots and flaws.

  4. Thanks, Amanda.
    There are days I feel like I've gotten a smidgen of polish and then are days I feel as rough as tree bark. We are all truly WIPs until we get to heaven. And what a fantastic journey.