Dealing with…the first draft.

I’m allowed to suck.  It’s okay.  It’s natural. 

At least, that’s what I tell myself when I start working on a new project.  My concern is more about getting all the pieces out there onto the board, and not worrying about the little details.  And this system might not work for everyone, but it’s the way that I go about things.  So I figured I’d share in case it helps anyone else. 🙂

I think that’s my biggest piece of advice if you’re just starting out on a new project.  Be allowed to suck.  If you’re spending more time worrying about whether or not your writing is good, or whether the adjective on page 37 is really appropriate, you’re going to get bogged down with stress.  At least, I would.  And then I’d start revising like crazy.  So I try not to do that as much as possible.

With the new book, I already know in the first 30 pages that my pacing is all screwed up.  And I might go back and fix it before I finish the draft.  But for now?  I’m more concerned about getting through the rest of the scenes I already know.  Because I’ve got forward momentum, and if I stop to fix things that I already wrote, then I’d lose that momentum and might possibly get stuck again.  I’m one of those people that can and will get stuck quickly if I don’t keep pushing myself forward.  Even if I take a few days off from writing, it’s hard to get back into the zone.

So what I do is add a new file to my WIP folder.  It’s a blank Word document, that I title ‘TITLE revision notes’.  And as I go along, if I realize something I need to add to it, then I do so.  By the time I finished the first draft of Witch Eyes, I had somewhere between 40 and 50 notes.   A lot of them were small – double check the name of GIRL that’s hanging out with Jade.  Or – go back and adjust the scene in Chapter 7 that ties into the ending.  Stuff like that.  And then I had the big ones.   Make sure Riley is consistent throughout the book.  Read through the magic sections, make sure those have the same kinds of descriptions in place.

This way, by the time I get to the first round of revisions, I’ve been keeping tabs all along on what I need to fix.  I don’t have to start fresh and try to remember what it was about the beginning that was bothering me.  

So that’s my advice.  Polishing up the book is what revisions are for.  Keep the forward momentum and get those words out.  And I think it’s a lot easier to go back through and revise a book than it is to get the darn thing written in the first place. 

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4 thoughts on “Dealing with…the first draft.

  1. I do that thing with notes-as-I-go-along, too. For some reason writing them by hand seems to help, and I usual end up with several pages of scrawled… stuff… to figure out when it comes to revising that first draft. 🙂

  2. My sister sent me a link to the entry, because I tend to get frustrated with how bad my first drafts can be, or yeah, get really nit-picky about making certain things perfect the first time.
    Great advice; I need to learn to just push through and polish later.

    • I’m glad it helped you out. It took me a long time to figure out that it was okay not to be perfect the first time around. And I found I got more productive if I let myself just write, and not get bogged down.

      Hope it helps. Good luck!

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