The Mountain of the First Draft.

PieChart-FirstDraftI have wanted to be a writer for a long time but the hurdle of becoming a writer is that, at some point, you have to actually sit down and write a book.

Many people say that they’d like to write a book but few get through their first draft.

Ah yes, the dreaded first draft. I’ve been working on my manuscript for a long time and it’s been through many stages and false starts. I have an idea but getting it down on to the page terrifies me.

I’ve taken part in National Novel Writing Month for about five years now and it’s strange how differently I approach that challenge. As I know no one else is going to see my draft and that it IS just for me, I can write (my record was 23,000 words in one evening. A productive night that I, to this day, don’t know how I managed and have never since.)

However, when it comes to my current work in progress, I get into my own head and then get blocked. My main problem is that I expect too much of my first draft. I’m too quick to go to that delete button when I read back what I’ve written as I don’t feel it’s good enough. What I need to remember though is that, at this stage, quality doesn’t matter. It’s not going to be good. That’s the point of the first draft. It’s all about getting the idea down on the page and learning about “your style and voice.” Words I wish I could remember when I’m actually writing.

Many wonderful authors have given me advice; three pieces have particularly stuck with me. The first was from author Cecelia Ahern who told me to write for myself. Write the book I want to write. Margaret James has told me a couple of times to “just keep going.” Trisha Ashley likened the first draft to having a “shut door’ on your writing. When writing your first draft, look on it as writing in a room with the door shut. You are writing just for you. The second draft is for everyone else. I’ve written out these inspirational words and placed them near my computer for the moments when the first draft seems too overwhelming.

Anyone got any advice for writers who are working on their first drafts? What methods, routines or advice have worked for you?

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Laura
I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

2 Responses to The Mountain of the First Draft.

  • Jan Brigden says:

    Laura, I can’t tell you how many times I was nodding my head in agreement with you when I was reading this post. I have lost the flow so many times with my poor old WIP through endless bouts of tweaking & re-tweaking, instead of just completing that all-important first draft. Valuable lessons definitely learned. Thanks for sharing your experiences and the wonderful advice you’ve been given. Here’s to us finally finishing those ‘firsties’ 😉 Xx

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