Okay. Let’s take a deep breath before we get into this. Everything is going to be alright. Don’t freak out. YOU CAN DO THIS! 🙂
Many aspiring authors don’t make it to this point and even if they do, they may not make it past a few pages. The crippling feelings of doubt and fear of failure pervade our minds every day. Because of this and the need for perfection, the First Draft is literally the hardest part of writing your novel. It seems like an insurmountable obstacle, but there are a few things you can do to psych yourself up and “Get ‘er done!”
1. Understand that the First Draft will be (excuse my French) shitty!
Probably the most important thing I learned in college (aside from getting my Psychology degree), was that “the first draft of any paper will be shit.” That is literally the exact words of my favorite professor. Whether it’s a term paper, a research paper, or a novel, the first draft will be THE WORST DRAFT. That’s why it’s called a draft. But it is allowed to be crappy. That’s the whole point of the First Draft.
Think of it like a human body. The First Draft is the bones – without bones, there would be no support and no structure for the novel to stand on. It is a necessity.
2. All it has to do is EXIST.
The greatest thing about the First Draft is that there are so many possibilities. You can literally vomit on a 100+ pages and it’s done. But you cannot build on something that doesn’t exist. Bam. There is the beauty of the First Draft, it simply has to exist.
Okay, so now that you understand the two things above, let’s get into a few more tips about getting it done! 🙂
3. Hold yourself accountable.
Whether that’s setting aside a certain time each day, or hitting a predetermined word count, make it a priority. For my novel Purpose, I made sure I wrote AT LEAST 500 words per day. When I went on vacation, I brought my laptop with me and wrote at least 1,000 words for each day I was out of town. Writing doesn’t take breaks because it’s supposed to be fun! But that doesn’t mean you can make excuses not to do it.
I cannot promise that it will be easy to write every day. But I can promise that writing for 1 hour or 500+ words per day will get you closer to your goal. And if that doesn’t inspire you, please see #1 and #2 🙂
4. NEVER EDIT until you are done.
If you have to have your friend/spouse/parent, etc. sit next to you and slap you, so be it. But, please, do not edit your First Draft until you are completely DONE with it. That means, done with the whole story. Not done with a chapter. Not done with your word count for the day. THE WHOLE STORY.
Why? Because it is a gigantic pitfall. If you spend time reading your work over and over, you will start to hate it or spend so much time fixing it, you will never move on. That is why countless writers quit before they finish even the First Draft. I promise, you can edit later, but do not do it until the draft is complete.
5. Make it fun!
Listen to music. Recite your dialogue out loud. Watch a short YouTube video after every 30 minutes of writing. Look up motivational quotes for 5 minutes before you start. Anything to get you to write and stay excited about it, do it! The whole reason that you’re writing this novel is because you are passionate about it. Right?
Don’t make writing a chore. If you start dreading the time spent with your novel, then you need to change things up. Not everyone can write a novel, but that’s what makes YOU special. You have a fire burning in your belly that needs to come out into text. Seeing your name on the cover of a book. Your first true fan writing a letter about how much they loved your story….
But it has to be fun. You have to make it enjoyable. Otherwise, you may never finish it.
So there you have it. It doesn’t take much to get the First Draft done… just commitment (and a lot of it)!
As for me, I called my first draft “vomit on 300 pages”. I mean, that’s literally what I felt like I was doing, regurgitating every paragraph that came into my head. Sure, I followed my outline, but since I keep that so vague, most of the story was new to me as I wrote it. But lo and behold, I got it done and I’m in the editing phase currently. (*Gasp* What a great lead in to the next topic of Let’s Write a Novel!)
Don’t ever feel like you’re alone in this! YOU CAN DO IT and every other author is right there with you!
2 thoughts on “The DREADED First Draft”
I love this post! I have recently finished editing my first novel and am finding myself stuck with my next project. It’s been a long time since I let myself write freely in the way only first drafts allow you to!
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I just started Book 2 of my trilogy and you are so right! It is so freeing just to sit down and write without worrying what the content is 🙂 Editing takes forever!
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