Writing Update: Tips & Tricks on Completing Draft 1
Happy Hump Day!
I have truly and dearly missed coming onto WordPress, reading everyone’s posts on what they’ve been up to or reading or writing, and just overall blogging on here! I don’t even know how I lasted so long without hopping on here to gush about books with you all and scroll through the endless and fun book tags!
I have been on a little teeny tiny hiatus from basically all things social media and blogging. It wasn’t super intentional, but I did know I would be taking a step back to focus on more reading before jumping into editing draft 1 and creating draft 2 of my WIP. For a little refresher, I set out to write and complete the first draft of my book over the course of many many years. This past December, I said enough was enough, and tackled down to officially start and finish the first draft. My initial goal was to have it done by April, which got pushed back to July 31st, which then was pushed back again to August 31st. I officially completed it on August 31st with many typos, many errors, and a stank that comes from writing a horrible, terrible first draft. BUT… I completed it! And now I can really dive deep and turn it into the book of my dreams.
Since September 1st, I have put that draft away and out of sight. I focused on reading more, spending time with loved ones I neglected during my drafting, and enjoying nature as the weather has turned a crisp and colourful Autumn page. Throughout this time, I compiled a list of tips and tricks, and advice (although truly I feel I don’t know all that much to be giving advice). This is just what I have learned through writing this extensive WIP and the things I would do differently next time. I also asked on my Insta stories what questions some of the followers on there had related to writing and got a few responses I will be sharing down below!
- Set a deadline! And be okay with adjusting it!
It works for some and can be frightening for others. Gauge what works best for you, if it’s mini deadlines like finishing a chapter by the end of the week, or even just having a scene completed by the end of the day. I went for a more big picture deadline such as having the draft completed by a certain time. I do get a bit anxious in trying to meet that deadline and when I feel like I can’t do it, it does feel a bit disappointing to have to adjust it, but I learned to push past that feeling. Adjusting the deadline is important to acknowledge the work that you put in but also the fact that life freaking happens! Also – I have read and heard a lot of my fav authors talking about extending deadlines… life happens! Make the deadline that you feel is best for you and what you can do/push yourself to do without stressing yourself out, and adjust accordingly.
- Forget the details:
During the first few months of drafting, I found myself filtering through websites and books trying to find the perfect way to describe a location, or names, or creatures/beings in the story when I ran into a pause where I needed more information to write the scene. This was taking time away from the actual drafting and I wasn’t even sure if those details would be there come the final draft. So instead, I left between brackets what it was that was meant to go there, and I moved on. Now, that I have the story full-fledged ahead of me, I know what details to really be researching and working out how to effectively incorporate them in the story for that impact.
If you are the type of person that needs to know every little detail during the first draft, I highly recommend you try and find a way to allow yourself that space to fill in the details later because it will speed up your drafting process so much and give you that time to revisit with a clearer vision.
- Forget the word count:
I am very very guilty of looking at the word count and having a goal to reach every day… there is nothing wrong with this at all BUT it is not the end all be all! And I know during NaNoWriMo there is a word goal of 50k in a month which is meant to motivate more of the story to come onto the pages. Again, nothing wrong with it at all… it’s when you start getting hung up on the word count daily and letting it affect your progress that it becomes an issue. The end word count of your first draft will change dramatically. So if you miss the details, or share too much, it will all change so do not focus on the words. Focus on the story and the way it’s being told. It will flow better, smoother, and help in editing later on.
- Write. Every. Single. Day
This one may be hard to do, but the effort could still be there no matter working a 9-5, having family drama, catching up with friends, other business ventures, or whatever else. Even if it is a 5 word sentence, write every single day. I found that once I started to put in that time, an hour, 30 mins, even a simple 2 mins to add a closing sentence, it kept me in the story. I wasn’t jumping in and out of the story, losing focus and momentum. I was embedded into it, I knew what would be happening, I discovered my characters every single day because I was there reading and writing the story. As hard as it is sometimes, you have to try your best to make the time every day to sit and write, no matter how much or how little. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I would have had the amount of flesh in the story to now play with and edit to perfection.
- DO NOT EDIT!!
This one is a hard one, I know, but do not go back to edit or even as you’re writing. It’s tough to not stop after each word, sentence, or paragraph and edit things out or rearrange the scenes, but trust me this will be done when it comes time to edit. All you need is words on the page right now, time to learn your story and characters, and the pace of writing as much and as often as you can. Editing will happen. Write a small comment on the side or highlight the section and make your own personal notes on what changes you want to make, and then move it along!
- Track your progress!
This helps a lot in seeing where you are in drafting and how far you need to go to reach your goal. It can be a bit off-putting at times to see when you haven’t made much progress on those more difficult days, but just know that better ones are coming and when they do, you’ll feel proud of how far you’ve come. It’s also best to gauge the days you are able to write more or the sections in the book that required the most effort so it helps you navigate the editing process more. Overall, the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled when you FINALLY finish (no matter how long you take) and you see the finished product in front of you and how far you’ve come.
- It’s okay to not be perfect, to pause, to doubt, to question!
We all go through this. Every single person who is working on a passion project has this moment, and as long as you don’t dwell in it, you will reach success. During my time drafting and part of the reason why the deadline to finishing was pushed back twice was due to the fact that I had to stop several times and re-evaluate what was happening in the core heart of the story. While I was pushing past the details that weren’t needed right now, I couldn’t push past bigger plot issues that would rise up every now and then. I had to brainstorm multiple times from days to weeks before finding something to go off of that would take me in the right direction. It’s normal for that to happen. It’s fine to take that time and figure out how to proceed. And it’s completely okay to face insecurities that stop you for a little while. If you’re really passionate about it, you will fight through. Remember others have felt what you felt and pushed past. Don’t dwell on it for too long and keep yourself in that bubble because you absolutely deserve to have your story told and heard!
How do you get your creativity back after losing it half-way through drafting?
This is an amazing question! I would say, it happens to us all at different times especially during those moments of doubt. Don’t fret or stress over it. What works for me, is remembering how much I love this story, and then backtracking to all the aspects that inspired me to write it in the first place. I’ll play scores that remind me of the book on my playlist, or browse through Spotify to find more incredible pieces. I’ll go to the Pinterest board I created and look through the pictures. I’ll revist the notebooks filled with ideas and inspo for the book. Really whatever made you want to write the book in the first place, take yourself back to those moments and you’ll have the motivation and creativity to return to the draft. If that doesn’t work, then I would look at why the creativity stopped… maybe you’re at a point in the book where you’re lost on what happens?
Is it better to outline before drafting?
It depends on you! If you like outlining or find it useful, then go for it. If you’re not sure what you like, try outlining the first little bit of the book so you have a jumping off point and then go from there. It really just depends on what you prefer!
How often should I be writing?
As often as you can! For me, I found I was able to meet my personal deadline by writing every day, even if it was just for 5 mins. I also found it allowed me to stay connected in that world. Write as often and as much as you are able to!
Are there any tools you recommend for writing?
I don’t know about any tools… I love notebooks for capturing ideas, and things like Spotify and Pinterest. For the first draft, for me anyway, it’s just about words on the page! Editing might be a different story and I’ll keep you updated for things on that!
How long should each chapter be?
Again depends on the story. I don’t think there is a perfect page or word count. Write the story in your heart, the way you wish. With editing, you’ll have a better idea, but each writer is different. From a publishing perspective, I have no idea! Lol! But, I think that the pace and flow of the story determines all those little details.
What if you get another idea half-way into writing and need to go all the way back?
This happened to me! So, I had another idea that came to me from just writing and going with the flow, which is the magic of writing! What I did… I made a comment on the side of Word with the complete concept of the idea, and continued to write the story with the idea. I introduced a character too early, but I wrote as if I didn’t and will be making corrections through editing! Do not go back is my main advice. Just move forward, make notes, and change after!
Thank you to everyone who sent in the questions and everyone who has been with me on this journey thus far. I can’t wait to dive into editing tomorrow and come back with more tips and share the progress with you all!
Please please let me know what you guys are working on, if you have any tips or tricks for me and what phase of this process you are on!