NaNoWriMo creeping steadily closer, I thought I’d give my top 5 tips on pushing
through your first draft. Sometimes I
need to remind myself of my own rules, so even if you’re not signing up for an
official challenge, these still might help in getting that all important first
draft downloaded from your head to paper or screen.
1) Send your inner critic on holiday.
The meanie voice – my editor’s technical term – is not helpful in a first
draft. In fact, it’s extremely detrimental. (I use EFT for this, but you can
use any self talk that works for you.) And don’t worry, it will come back when
|Tapping for the inner critic, CYA masterclass|
If the critic creeps back and points out that what you’ve just spent the last
three days writing is complete garbage, tell it you don’t care. Every bit of
garbage you write is teaching you more about your story. Even if you throw out
every word in subsequent drafts, your first draft will have done its job.
2) Take quick breaks from the screen –
stand up and stretch every half hour, walk around a bit. Go for a walk outdoors
every day, without a mobile phone. Meditate, do your yoga or tai chi. Your
draft will be better if you’re physically and mentally healthy.
3) While you’re writing, close email, turn
off social media notifications and put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Each
distraction might only seem momentary, but if it jolts you out of your own
world, it takes much more than that out of your writing time. You need to be
able to relax into your story to let it flow.
4) Don’t stop just because you’re stuck
in one spot. If you find you’ve got a character without a name, call it Joe* or
Jane* or just plain X or *. The name is likely to be much more obvious when you’ve
written more of the story.
|Early draft of Dragonfly Song -when Aissa was Aisha|
If a whole scene is stalling you, just skip it. Put in a chapter marking and whatever thoughts
you have, even if it’s just ‘Linking
Scene or Passage of time??’
The brighter side is – if you have a scene that is exceptionally clear in your
head or demands to be written because it is in line with your own mood at the
moment – just do it. If it’s that clear, it’s probably a pivotal point in the
book. Writing it may help clarify all the steps towards it.
5) If you’re halfway through and decide
that it really should be written in the first person instead of the third, or
the past tense instead of the present, just go ahead and try. If it feels
right, you can change the beginning when you redraft later. If it doesn’t you
can revert to the person and tense that you started with.
that this first draft is for fun, exploration, and the wastepaper basket.
forward, no matter what.
Have faith that you will find the best way to tell this story; even if it takes
more drafts and experiments than you hoped, each step and misstep will take
|A new first draft, 2 years later|
closer to that best.
Labels: 1st draft, creative writing, EFT tapping for writers, First draft, how to write a first draft, manuscripts, NaNoWriMo, silencing the inner critic, tips for first draft, writing, writing tips