You don’t throw a shirt down on the ironing board all wadded up and just press your hot iron overtop it.
I mean, maybe you do, if your intention is to make some kind of shirt sandwich and pressing the wrinkles deeper into the fabric locks in the flavor or whatever.
But usually, you lay the shirt flat. You make sure the collar isn’t folded up, and you smooth down the sleeves. Then you get to ironing. Giving yourself that minute to prepare the canvas, so to speak, makes the work easier and promises you a better outcome.
It’s the same with writing.
When you’re writing your first draft — or even just cobbling your ideas together in your pre-writing Zero Draft — it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Oh no, you might think, should I not reveal this clue until the next chapter? Should this character be so upset by this? When should this happen? Oh, no, this doesn’t sound right at all. Should I just stop?
No! Don’t stop writing! Just remember — you’ve got to get the story laid down before you can iron it. Get all the thoughts down on paper (or screen, so to speak), however confusing or contradicting to each other. Get the story written — then iron it.
Second drafts, third drafts, tenth drafts, those are the opportunities to tweak timelines, to chart character arcs, to reorganize and rewrite scenes so the story can shine through. But you won’t be able to conceptualize what story you’re trying to tell until you tell it — then, you can fine-tune it. Then, you can iron it out.
So, don’t get overwhelmed if your story is messy and jumbled and you’re not quite sure what you’re doing. Just write it down. All of it. All the character descriptions. All the settings. The two versions of that scene’s dialogue you can’t decide on. Ten different climatic kisses. Every possible moment a clue for the twist might be potentially dropped. Give yourself, gift yourself, the time and space to get your story laid out. You can iron it later.