I'm off and running with my newest WIP, and I'm jazzed about it. I get to work on a new puzzle. I'm applying the road map I've created, the notes I've made, the character sketches I've completed, and the research I've done so far--everything--to the blank page. I'm officially neck deep in first draft.
As crazy as the first draft stage can be, there are oodles of things I love about it. One is based entirely on Anne Lamott's "sh**ty first draft" theory. As a perfectionist, this frees me up. I'm allowed to suck. The beauty of this, of course, is I can loosen up to get it all out: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I love to be allowed to have it all. Whose permission do I need? My own.
I mentioned at Becky Levine's blog that my critique group members and I turn in chapters as we go. Once I'm into my first draft, my goals are usually to go through the edits in my returned chapter and write a new chapter each week. I leave a small amount of time to clean up the new chapter so my group can see it as pretty as I can make it that week. Technically, I suppose that makes my completed first draft hardly a first draft at all since every chapter has been edited at least once by my group and at least twice by me. But in my mind (and in my computer), I still file it under "first draft." Mind game? Totally. But it works for me. Even doing revisions, when I'm creating entirely new scenes or changing an old scene substantially, I have to tell myself to return to the first draft frame of mind. And it helps me.
There's no right or wrong way to write a novel; each one of us needs to do what works for us as individuals. Still, it's so interesting to hear how other people do it. How do you work? Do you show your critique partners, your agent, or your spouse--anyone--chapters as you go, or do you keep the first draft to yourself? Does knowing it's the first draft help you relax and just get words down? Are there any mind games you play with yourself to help you work?