Day by day. Butt-On-Chair time. Lot’s of coffee.
Six Tips to Complete Your First Draft
- Routine: Create a schedule for your writing and write every day – that’s the Butt-On-Chair time (BOC). Even if it’s only a hundred words, those one hundred words move you closer to your goal of a completed first draft.
- Let Go of Perfectionism: Your first draft is going to be terrible. You won’t want anyone to read it. That’s okay. The key is, stop worrying so much if you have the perfect word or metaphor the first time around–just write. You can fix those things later when you revise.
- Be Organized: Create a log sheet to keep track of your time and word counts as you write. I use a standard spreadsheet, easy enough. Give yourself a weekly goal of how many words you’d like to get down. If a daily goal works better for you, then try that. Log your hours and word counts every day and you’ll see your writing patterns clearly.
- Practice: Read books about writing novels and go to workshops. You’ll gain valuable insight into the process and inspiration to keep going, even through the tough parts.
- Put Away the First Five Chapters: Chances are, you keep going back to the first few chapters of your book. Reading, rewriting, tweaking until they’re perfect. Or until you get another idea and have to go back and start the cycle again and again. Stop the madness–go on! Work on the next five chapters and make notes of what you think of as the ideas come to you. Chances are, you’ll change those first five chapters in your second draft anyway after you’ve learned your entire story and know what really needs to be in those critical opening pages.
- Don’t Give Up. Ever.
Commit to It
If you commit to making the time to write every day, you’ll be amazed at how much you get done. It wasn’t until I started following these six tips that I finished my first manuscript. Since last year, I’ve punched out two more first drafts and am currently revising another. So don’t give up.
Keep writing that first draft.
What things have helped you complete your first draft?
Rachelle Harp is editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Intentional Novelist, as well as an avid coffee drinker. Her speculative fiction has appeared in Havok Magazine and her non-fiction in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, a Zebulon Contest Novel winner, and a Novel Rocket Launch Pad Novel Contest grand prize winner. Read more at rachelleharp.com or follow her on Twitter.