In praise of the SFD

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There are a lot of little games and tricks I'm constantly tinkering with in order to stay organized, motivated, and on time as a freelancer. This month I really needed them because I had/have seven assignments due this month, five of which were for new clients and three of which are features over a thousand words long, so I felt extra aware of making sure my t's were crossed and so on.  

One strategy I have come to embrace this month is the shitty first draft. This not new at all in the world of writing but the SFD and I have really become friends this month. Essentially this is how I use it. The day before my story is actually due I set myself the deadline of having a SFD written. Of course this means lining everything up so that I can actually fire off a shitty first draft, which, despite its name, is much less shitty than no draft at all. A shitty first draft actually takes quite a bit of non-shitty work.

What makes it "shitty"? I will write NAME?? TITLE??? and highlight it in my shitty first draft in order to avoid leaving the document and wandering around the internet, because I will fill it in later. A shitty first draft doesn't have to be spellchecked or even have all its pieces formatted into correct phrasing--I will leave a few raw quotes in there. When I mean "raw" they look like this in my notes:  

I've been begging my boss to raise some $ for our ourganizaters to work on this isue, very simlar to the way that peopel pit that narrative, white people overdozing in a car vs/ POC using, that same pit is very much in social justice spaces and words.

However in a shitty first draft I have at least untangled MOST of it. You can look at it and see that the story is at this point maybe an 8 month unborn baby, like, it still needs to be cooked but it's mostly there. It is by and large near its word count. The changes and corrections on the next pass, the next day, are very clear--spell check, fill in the NAME??? TITLE???, clean up the raw quotes and make sure the whole thing reads and makes sense.  

I am not ambitious enough to have my stories finished early, but on a deadline day it feels like a gift to myself to open up a draft that is MOSTLY there rather than to spend the whole day finishing a piece AND also making sure it reads nicely, which really are two different things.  

Speaking of big stories I needed to stay on top of, I have my first story out in the New York Times this week, titled  When a New Mother's Joy is Entwined With Grief. I hope you check it out--I'm quite proud of this one.