Don’t expect great things from your first draft.
The biggest mistake of new writers is to expect their first draft to be their final one. But usually your first draft is a way to get your thoughts onto paper, and so you shouldn’t expect it to be perfect. That being said, the more experienced you are, the better your first draft will be.
First drafts can be painful. Getting those words down is hard, and sometimes it feels like extracting frigging teeth. But you need to get through it. Because only after the first draft is complete can you move onto the soul-destroying task of …
And if you thought the first draft was hard, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
My First Draft Process
- Every day I write something new.
- First draft stuff is written early in the day, when I’m still feeling creative.
- I have a word target. I do not get up from my chair until I reach this target. It might be 500 words, it might be 2000, but whatever it is, I keep going until I’m there.
- I begin by reviewing what I wrote the day before. But I try not to edit it too much, otherwise I get stuck in Edit Mode. There’s a big difference between Edit and Create.
- Once I reach my word target, if I’m in the zone, I keep going. (If I’m not, I go for a walk. I find walking clears away the cobwebs, helps me think knotty issues through.)
- Every day, I tell myself ‘well done’.
- Repeat this process until finished.
And I DO NOT get worked up over what is happening until the story is finished.
Worrying about plot holes is a sure-fire way to procrastinate.
Something like Nanowrimo can help – the way you get a little graph at the end of the day is quite cool. Plus, it’s nice to feel you’re not alone.
Of course, this is all wonderful stuff. I break my rules all the time.