Writing the first draft can be a stumbling block for many writers. They try to get all the drafts done in one fell swoop. Writing the first draft is only round one in a long process. I love this quote by Terry Pratchett because he nails the definition of the first draft.
The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
When I wrote the first draft for Princess of the Light, I wrote every single thought, conversation and characterization that came into my head. It wasn’t about whether it was pretty or even made any sense; it was about getting everything down on paper. It doesn’t matter who the POV is or what the subject matter, get it all down.
I get asked a lot of questions by fellow writers about the process of writing. When I was starting out, I asked a lot of questions to writers. So here are five pitfalls to avoid when writing the first draft:
1- Write about one character at a time. I find this one of the oddest things I have come across. Write whatever comes to your mind. Whether you are pantser or plotter, write it all down. Your book, like in life, has many characters. Think of yourself like a narrator and get it all down. Even if you’re in first person, observe what is going on around you and write it down.
2- Edit while you are writing. This is one of the worst things you can do to stifle the flow of your story. Forget about it being perfect and ready for publishing. Get everything down and allow yourself to be messy. There were times when I was writing that it felt like torture. I looked it over while I was writing and said to myself, “I am the worst writer in the world. I just wrote the worst pile of crap.” Later, when I was revising my first draft, the same passage was beautiful.
3- Write what is popular. This is a two-edged sword in the publishing industry. Sure, it would be nice to write something that will fit perfectly with the book trends. The truth is no matter what you write, unless you are a celebrity, what is hot today may be cold tomorrow. Take a look at the best seller chart and you will see the top ten books are vastly different. Following trends will only make it harder for your book to stand out. Instead, write what you would want to read. If it captures your imagination, then it will capture the imagination of other readers.
4- Write to get rich. Yes I know, all writers out there in the universe are laughing. It’s comical but the truth is that there are some people out there who write for the purpose of making a lot of money. They don’t care about the story or the impact it will have on others. All they can see are dollar signs. Most writers write because they have to; it’s like breathing. I write because if I do not, I will suffocate. I have these characters and stories in my head that I want to share with the world. Money is nice but it is not what drives me. Inspiring others and telling stories is my motivation. Don’t concentrate on the money part when writing your first draft.
5- Stop reading and only concentrate on the writing. This is THE worst pitfalls ever! I know writing a first draft takes all of your creative energy and time. But don’t stop reading. In fact, reading all sorts of books is exactly what you need to be doing. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Reading not only improves your knowledge but helps you hone your writing skills. You get a first-hand glimpse into POV, pace, characterization, setting, plot twists, etc. It’ll make you a better writer!
There you have it! I hope this helps you while you are writing your first draft. Pitfalls can be avoided by just letting yourself go and write. Let go of all the self-doubt and anxieties. You have a story to tell and the first step in telling your story is to get it all down in the first draft! 🙂
Until next time…
MRS N, the Writer