From idea to publication – Episode 4: Getting that first draft done.
In the last three episodes of this series “From idea to publication,” we have talked about facing our fears, having a place to write, and the importance of outlining. Now we are going to finally get down to the business of writing.
When we are beginners, it is important to listen to people who have more experience than us – in fact, you might know that already, because you probably do ask for help from people with more experience than you, right? Every writer says we must write every day. So I am just going to repeat that rule – you must write every day.
There is no way out of it – we may give excuses to ourselves, say we don’t have the time, we don’t need to write every day, because inspiration will come. But the truth is, it is very difficult to finish that first draft if we don’t do it.
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Do the math – if you are planning to write a 50 thousand word novel, and had started writing 1000 words every day for the past 50 days, you would have your novel drafted by now. I think of that every day I spend without writing – that if I had just kept doing it every day, I would have tons of things ready for revision.
The problem is that most people tend to think that they will never finish their novels in less than two months. And why shouldn’t you? You’ve done your research, you have everything settled – you just need to strategically about the size of your novel and decide how many words you are going to write every day. It is a matter of planning.
Once you have that first draft done
You will feel so much better about yourself and your craft. You will have finished a book – isn’t that amazing? It may not be as well written as you want it to be, but that is what revisions are for. And you should not worry about revision as you write your first draft.
This is usually difficult for writers – especially new ones. We feel the need to edit as we write, and you should refrain from doing it. It’s okay if you think one of your chapters is bad, or “not there yet” – you can always go back to them later. Still, your main goal should be always to get your first draft done. It will give you the thirst you need to endure the editing phase.
The most important thing is to find out your pace – always check how many words you can write a day, within the time you have to write. If you have twenty minutes, good. How many words can you write in twenty minutes? From that, make tangible goals – have an idea of how long it would take for you to write your book. The more you do this, the easier will get. You will learn how long your chapters tend to be, how much time you need to put in each of them, and even how long a book should be.
As any skill in life, you will become a better writer when you start practicing it.