There’s something that’s missing from the larger conversation around writing.
It’s something that’s served visual artists for years. Something that has spawned the proliferation of Paint Nites (where you drink and paint a pre-chosen painting with your friends), mail-delivered art boxes, and the kind of dabbling that sometimes leads to something great.
It’s something that National Novel Writing Month fails to deliver, with all its bravado and focus on pushing through resistance under pressure.
It’s a gentle, instructive demonstration of the beauty and fun of creating in a particular media—in this case, writing—by someone who has more perspective than the casual beginner.
It’s Bob Ross. But for writing.
The thing is, process and outcome are BOTH important when it comes to learning how to write.
I’ve been editing for fiction authors for over five years now, and I’ve learned that most first-time book writers navigate similar terrain on their path to their first finished book.
During the drafting process, they learn about themselves as a writer, or a creative. They learn that every day is different, that the creativity comes and goes in waves. What a good day looks like for them. What recovery looks like for them. What it feels like to make progress. How long the adventure actually takes.
They also (hopefully) learn how to build a book—the plot elements, character structure, conflict, pacing and suspense that’s necessary to push a reader through the story, balanced by background information, setting, and world building, to make the world itself come alive.
The thing is, though—none of these things can be learned from an instructional book. Or a how-to list. Or a single webinar. Much of this learning process in the early writing and story-crafting process is learned through trial and error.
There’s no Bob Ross of writing, no seasoned professional who opens up their entire creative process so that other people, new to the craft, can learn, witness, and apply as necessary.
This is inefficient at best and can be really massively problematic, at worst, as each person who wanders into book-drafting territory is unable to learn from the people who have gone before them.
There’s a lot of suffering, a lot of misapplied expectations. The journey can be grueling.
What happens, then, is that we believe that we’re to blame—that we’re not good enough, or smart enough or talented enough, when it’s really just part of the terrain.
If you’re hiking down a path, it’s not your fault that you have to scramble over a log. You just have to scramble over it.
Without the perspective of someone who’s been there before, or someone else who is traveling their own path, it’s hard to know what’s YOUR problem and what just comes with the territory.
I want to open up the creative process so that we can learn from each other and stop blaming ourselves.
I want to create a road map that’s more nuanced than a simple how-to list.
I’m not Bob Ross, but I am Brenda Peregrine. I’m an editor, a writing coach, and an educator. I care about being kind and gently instructive.
I want us to feel better about the creative work we do in the realm of writing.
And I’m drafting my book out loud. Not because I'm a chronic oversharer or especially into the idea of being eviscerated on the internet.
It's because I believe Drafting Out Loud will help you become a better writer.
Really, the thing is, anyone who is willing to share their process here will contribute something to the conversation. I believe that opening up these kinds of spaces and shedding light on them is inherently valuable, and my book and my drafting process isn’t anything particularly special on its own.
But something that IS true is that I have editorial experience that most first-time authors don’t have.
I’ve got a really peculiar perspective on this—I’ve watched and helped hundreds of people through this process, and not yet done it myself. I’ve seen some of the terrain through sheer repetition, though not yet walked the path with my own two feet.
It leaves me particularly well-suited to both explain the general territory that most of us have covered AND react genuinely, as it’s happening to me.
I can’t offer a perfect road map. But I can offer self-awareness, a sense of perspective, and my own superpower--an incredible tolerance for vulnerability—to the mix.
I don’t know how this is all going to turn out, but Bob Ross didn’t know where each cloud was going to go when he started, either.
Nor each branch. The painting develops as a byproduct of the creative process.
And this is true, also for books.
Drafting is a discovery process, and I’m inviting you to join me on mine. So you feel better about yours, whatever it looks like.