Get That Draft Done

If you’re anything like me, beginning a first draft can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Sure, you’re excited to tell your story and can’t wait to see the words down on paper, but the enormity of the task can often give you pause and you might even use that as an excuse to not try.

No matter how many times I write a first draft I always find myself, at some point, wondering if I’ll ever reach the end. I know I will, I’ve done it before, however when I’m in the thick of that first draft, and it feels like the story just keeps going and going, I find myself in a state of despair. Sometimes it lasts a minute, sometimes a whole lot longer. And it’s those times when I take a breath and remind myself that I can do it.

Writing can be overwhelming, and lonely, and we all need that reminder sometimes. So, here’s me reminding you that YOU CAN DO IT.

And if you need a little help on the way, I’m offering a few tips that help me on the journey towards that second draft.

  • Know your beginning and your ending. As a self-proclaimed plotter, I also know my middle, and sure that changes as the story develops, but I always stay true to the ending I have in my head. Even if that ending is vague (she becomes queen) or plotted to a tee (like my current WIP Our Last Summer) I know how it’ll finish and that helps me reach the final sentence.

  • Set a realistic daily or weekly word count. And track your progress to keep yourself motivated. I tape a piece of paper to my wall and break it down by week, setting myself a new target each week to reach my total word count. Yes, I could be fancy and use technology to track my progress, but I’m old school. And if it’s not on the wall right in front of me I lose motivation.

  • Get to know your characters. Put in the work before beginning to get to know the people you’re bringing to life. Who are they? What do they want? What are their ambitions in life? How do they react when things don’t go their way? Who are their friends? Loved ones? Enemies? Take the time to know them. By the time you’ve finished writing you should know them as well as you know yourself.

  • Work out your world. Whether that be real or fantasy, you need to understand what the world looks like in your book. If you’re creating a fantasy world you will need to plan the intricacies of that world. Even if those things don’t make it into the book, you as the writer should still know how everything works.  

  • If it’s not working take a step back and reassess. You may have plotted everything out, planned each detail to the tee, but it’s just not working. That’s okay. Is it disheartening? Of course, it is. However, it doesn’t mean all is lost. It may just mean that you need to tweak your idea slightly. Or make a change to your main character. Go for a walk and think it over. Talk to a friend or fellow writer about your story and where you’re feeling stuck and brainstorm with them and they may see a solution you haven’t because you’re too close to the story.

  • Don’t measure yourself against anyone else. We all write at our own pace. We all have a way that works for us. If you see someone has written 20,000 words in a week and you think to yourself, ‘that’s what I should be doing and I’m a failure because I’m not’ then you need to stop. Write at your pace and you’ll get there.

  • Ignore the voice in your head telling you that you’re not good enough. If this voice has never visited you, then I am in awe of you because it visits me. A lot. And it took work for me to learn to ignore it. Even now I still struggle with it and when it looks like it’ll take over I remind myself of what I’ve achieved.

  • Celebrate your wins. No matter how small. An achievement deserves to be celebrated. If you need encouragement for reaching a weekly goal, treat yourself to something. When you finish the draft, buy yourself something, get a manicure, have a weekend away. Anything. But make sure you DO something. Finishing that draft is a huge achievement and you deserve to celebrate.

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