I’M DONE WITH MY FIRST DRAFT! Right now I’m crying and laughing and just a whole bundle of wildly contrasting emotions. A year ago, if you had told me that I would have written 50,000 words in 36 days, I wouldn’t have believed you!
Yet, here I am: 35 years old and I just wrote my first book.
As someone who has had a love-hate relationship with writing due to my dyslexia, I find that being here now is surreal. My dyslexia got worse after highschool and it was really hard for me to write something down that seemed so clear in my brain, only to look down and see weird gibberish instead.
In order to find a way to keep writing and telling stories, I experimented with many different mediums of writing, from Screenwriting to Poetry to Oral Storytelling. It took a very long time for me to be comfortable with my flaws as a writer, my disabilities, and to be in a place (both mentally and physically) where I can put hours a day into a project.
When I wrote ‘Playing Hero’ (which at the time was the longest story I have ever written), the journey of writing taught me a lot of things about myself and the best process for me as a writer.
Writing ‘The Bipartisan Affair’ has been no different. I learned a lot during this process and I thought I would share it with you!
When people talk about persistence, they often talk about sitting down in front of your computer and doing the work day in and day out. What people miss about being persistent (especially when it comes to writing) is that you have to know what method of writing and what schedule works best for you and then you have to stick with it.
For some, this means writing every day with the same word count goal all the time, for others it means writing a few hundred words in the middle of their coffee break, or the occasional weekly or monthly writing marathons. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT IF YOU FAIL, YOU GET BACK UP AND CONTINUE ON!
I know this is hard to hear. I have bad days when I can’t even get out of bed and the last thing I want to do is to sit my ass at my desk and write 1,000 words—and I don’t. I allow myself to have bad days, but on the next good day I get my ass back up and open my laptop and write. I had 4 off days in my 36 days of writing this first draft. The most important thing is that I got up and went back to work on this project.
I said this in my last post but it bears repeating; GET A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT CAN CHEER YOU ON! From the very beginning my friends, my family, my partner, and a whole gang of fellow authors and readers cheered me on every step of the way.
I know I am incredibly blessed and privileged to have that. There are some writers out there that don’t have the support I have. However, I can’t stress this enough; FIND YOUR SQUAD!!
The writing community on Twitter has been incredibly welcoming to me. If you’re an introvert like me it’s incredibly scary to put yourself out there, but I promise you that it’s worth it because when I had my worst days writing this draft, the Twitter community encouraged me and pushed me when I needed it. If Twitter is not your thing, check out Facebook, Instagram, Discord, or in real life at a meetup or a local writing organization. The right squad is waiting for you!
My first draft is garbage, but that’s okay because, as Ernest Hemingway always used to say, “The First Draft of Anything is Shit.” The most freeing thing for me was letting go of the need to be perfect and allowing myself to be messy.
First drafts, even if they are plotted, have a little bit of freewriting going on. I don’t know about you but once I create my characters they tend to get a mind of their own and run rampant all over my outline.
I had to learn the hard way to embrace that. I think a story becomes more organic when your characters do that. A lot of the time, my job as a writer is to just listen with an open mind and let the story follow my characters’ whims.
OUTLINES SHOULD CHANGE AND EVOLVE AS THE STORY CHANGES!
This was the hardest thing for me to accept for a very long time. I would get so frustrated that I would spend tons of time on the outline only to have my characters deviate from it, but I guarantee that this is fine.
First drafts are only you throwing the garbled mess in your brain onto the paper, and you have many subsequent drafts in which to shape that mess into something beautiful.
With Crave, I learned this lesson the hard way! Writing Crave explicitly showed me the many stages a book has to go through to reach publication. One of the reasons I haven’t formally published it yet is that it still needs to be edited. So, it still has some stages to go before I even think about putting it up on Amazon.
To me personally, quality will always outdo quantity. I would much rather put quality books under my name than rush and publish something mediocre.
In the end, this is just the first step of a long process to publication—but for me, it’s a damn good start.
What lessons have you learned from writing a first draft? Let me know down in the comments!