When I first decided to write a novel, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The only things I’d ever written creatively were short poems or songs. I mean, I knew it’d be difficult but I didn’t know just how difficult.
I started off just writing, no plan or anything. I would make progress and then the next time I sat down to write, I would lose my place and write something that didn’t really fit. So, the story kept evolving and changing far too rapidly for me to keep up with any of the overarching details. Anyway, long story short, I realized the hard way that I’m not the type of writer who can free write. I need some sort of structure to keep my mind focused and my thoughts organized.
After spending weeks on character creation, world building, and outlining, I started the actual writing process. This was fun, but exhausting. Even with the outline, my story still evolved. However, it evolved at a much slower pace and I was able to keep up with it much easier.
So, I think this part, the actual writing of your story, is the most difficult thing to do. You are telling yourself the story and all its tiny details for the first time. It’s definitely okay for some things to be unclear or some things to change. You will have time to revise and edit. I struggled with this.
I tried so hard not to edit while I was writing, but I couldn’t help but go back and rewrite the same few paragraphs until they were perfect. I didn’t think that was a horrible thing until I realized how long I’d been working on my novel and how little I’d actually written. So, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I thought, maybe if I set a goal for myself, I can actually finish this thing. Well, it worked. Kind of.
I didn’t actually finish my novel during NaNoWriMo, but I did win. I wrote 50k words and then I took a break from writing. I finished my novel during the next Camp Nano and won that too!
Setting small goals everyday helped me get through those months without pulling all my hair out. I even gave myself rewards for the major goals I accomplished. For example, when I wrote 15k, I let myself buy the book I’d been wanting. At 25k, I bought a mug for my collection. At 50k, I took myself out to eat for a nice dinner. At 60k, I bought a custom-designed shirt. And when I finished my first draft, I made a poster for my book and had it printed to hang on my wall. I tend to be more motivated when I have things to work towards.
At the end of the day, I know I could just go and give myself all of those things because I’m an adult and I can do what I want, but only letting myself have them once I’d completed goals really motivated me. I felt so excited once I’d reached a goal. Not only did I get a reward but I was that much closer to having written my first novel. It was exciting!
But don’t get me wrong. There were times when I wanted to quit or when I wanted to abandon the idea, but I reminded myself that I was doing this for myself. I needed to prove that I could do it, that I had it in me to be a writer. I mean, everything you read about how to be a writer tells you to simply “write.” I wasn’t sure if I could do that, but I did it. I had to edit like crazy and revise a hundred times it seemed, but it was all worth it in the end because even if it was crap, at least I had something to show for all my time spent at my computer and at least I had something to edit.
Tell me about your first drafts. Do they take you forever to finish? Or Do you not stop writing until it’s done?
Thanks for reading,