Hey, my loves. We established one of the most important words of advice regarding writing a book is to not edit your first draft. Read more here. Now, we will break down the most effective way to write the first draft from start to finish.
But first, I hope you all are doing well as we approach Winter and, oddly enough, the end of 2020. I had yet to experience a year that felt both long and short at the same time until now. Here is to using December to set goals and prepare for the achievements to come in 2021!
The website looks different, right? She got updated! I have new plans for the site and blog and want to make sure I am utilizing the best tools for alllll the exciting things I’ll be giving y’all. This post was originally planned to come a little sooner than this, but I had to make sure the switch and site construction went well and wasn’t rushed. You’re welcome. LOL, jk. Kinda.
I am creating a myriad of workbooks, worksheets, checklists, etc. to begin offering on the site. I want to give you all the tools you need to succeed in your dreams of writing and any other projects you may be passionate about! Let me know what type of workbooks, etc. you would like to see! I’m loving this new design bag I’m venturing into – the tools I’ve created so far are ah-mazing I must say.
I’m also diligently working on the sequel to DRIVE. I cannot wait to share my first sequel with you all!
So, yeah. A lot going on in my world. But let’s get into what you came here for.
This is my tried and true process for writing the first draft of a book, established after years of trial and error. Let me save you some time and give you the answers right neeoow.
Foolproof Process: Writing the First Draft of Your Book
There are four key steps to follow to increase the probability of successfully starting and completing your book’s first draft:
- WRITE (duh)
- Do not
- Take a Step Back
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” said by the President whose face is placed on my favorite U.S. dollar bill, Benjamin Franklin.
Yes, you will be creating and you can’t “plan” creativity. You have to just let the juices flow. But listen, organizing those juices will truly be the difference between a sweet and satisfying sangria and the unknown liquid substance that drips from the bottom of a garbage bag.
Create an outline.
out·line /ˈoutˌlīn/ A general description or plan giving the essential features of something but not the detail.
You don’t need all the details of your story to plan it out. You just need what you have. Note the most basic elements that are essential. Fill in as many blanks in the middle as you can, and if you know the ending note that too. Your outline will save your ideas.
I am one of those writers that has to outline everything. Writing on the fly works for some but it does not work for me. I lose some popping ideas when I don’t organize my thoughts and that is seriously one of the worst feelings. Having notes to refer to and keep all those thoughts in one place for my story takes many unneccessary complexities out of the writing process.
2. WRITE (duh)
Now, don’t spend too much time on the outline. It’ll very likely change as you go, anyway, as it is just a loose guide to keep all your thoughts in check. And thoughts stay changing, right? Right.
You have to start telling the story as soon as you can. Start writing. This is where all those blanks in your outline will get filled. As you write, all the unknowns will introduce themselves and the story will unfold for you. I speak more about the story coming to you here.
3. Do NOT
The best writing advice you will receive. Once again. Here it is, folks.
Don’t edit that first draft as you go. Just go.
Do not get hung up on technicalities, punctuation, sentence structure, or even grammar. Your purpose with the first draft is solely to get your story on the page. You can make it look pretty later. There will be more than enough time and opportunity for editing. Trust me. Don’t make the process any harder than it needs to be by aiming for perfection at this stage.
Related article: The Best Advice About Writing a Book You Will Ever Receive
4. Take a Step Back
Finish that first draft and leave it alone for at least a month.
If you feel like you cannot do that, trust me, you can and you absolutely should. I used to be against this suggestion as well until I tried it. Now it’s mandatory in my book-writing process.
When you return to your story after some weeks, it looks like a completely different story. Scenes that may have made complete sense when you wrote them now have areas of improvement you can see clearly. Ways to expound on an idea or vision or theme you’re aiming for will become visible and you will realize better ways to execute the plot. There is magic in giving your mind a break. It is one of the best moves you can make for your project and yourself.
While outlines and planning the story saves your ideas, taking a step back saves you. Burnout is real, and I know personally, as a writer I can be pretty hard on myself with self-inflicted deadlines and high expectations and even just excitement to bring a story idea to life. We don’t need to drive ourselves crazy working on our books constantly. That’s not good for ourselves or our art, period. Take time to recharge your mind, body, spirit, and book. And it doesn’t need to wait until you finish the first draft. If you feel like you need a break in the midst of the project, set it aside. Take as many breaks as you need. Just be sure to always take that break when the draft is done, whether you feel like you need it or not. Your story will always benefit from that.
What are your favorite tips and practices for writing the first draft of your book? Let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season + happy writing. xo