I've been tempted lately to view my habit of writing messy, random, spontaneous first drafts as a sign that I am unskilled and destined never to be a published novelist. Then I thought about what it is I do...follow wild threads of my imagination down unknown corridors. Run free, surprise and exhilarate myself. Essentially, I play. My written creative play is not that different from what I did with my imagination as a child, only I'm doing it in words with the goal of coming to some greater understanding. I think it's actually quite good for me.
I also know how to do the ordering, polishing, blitzing, gutting and renovating that turns a draft into something that might impart joy and meaning to other readers, but there's nothing wrong with my process.
What's wrong is that I get impatient. I want to be perfect right away, even though I like the unbridled messy part. In fact, I like that part the best. I like waking up in the morning and wondering where in my own fiction I might travel that day. I like probing the far reaches of my own creativity--and surprising myself.
I think there is too much emphasis for artists on production, money-making and validation. We're taught to want to be like American Idol hopefuls--fighting and competing toward that million dollar prize, rather than just making the music that's in our souls.
I suppose you might think, "She'd change her tune if she got a book deal." I don't think so. I still have to value this part of the process--the reckless, strange, scary unknown writing part, before I can ever appreciate or become good enough to succeed at the other end of it.
I hope that other artists out there remember to enjoy the imperfect part of the process, or can learn how to, because it's important. Crucial even.