Writing the first draft is one of the most exciting things in a writer’s journey. This is the first time you’re working with your characters/information and putting it down into prose for your audience.
However, it can also be daunting to write and finish the first draft. Sometimes there’s a lot to keep track of, and you want to make sure you’re putting yourself in a good position for when you start making revisions. Also depending on your work’s length, it can take a long time to finish the first draft.
But how do you write a good first draft? Let’s find out!
Think about Planning Beforehand
When you started writing, you had an idea that you thought was worthy putting into words. Whether that’s a story, blog post, or poem, you took the time to start writing down the thoughts that came into your mind.
One way you can write a successful first draft is planning your strategy beforehand. That means taking a look at what you want to do and creating an outline to help you get there. You can make your outline while you’re still in the early stages or if you’re looking for inspiration on how to continue next.
If outlining isn’t your style, think about jotting down some notes for the future. Chances are, if you have an idea for a scene in your story, you’ll forget it if you don’t put it down right away. Writing down your ideas can help you stay organized and have something to fall back on when you need to connect the dots.
You can also consider making extra charts or diagrams. Things such as character profiles, information you want to include, or even just a background on why you’re writing something can help you write your first draft. You can even edit these when you decide to change something or have a new perspective, but save a copy of the first version in case you change your mind.
Setting Aside time to Write
When you’re writing the first draft of anything, you need to set aside time to finish it. That means creating a consistent schedule where you’re always working on your piece.
The writing schedule you have will depend on who you are. Some people naturally have more time than others, so you’ll have to think about this in terms of how much you have. If you work a day job, consider writing in the mornings or evenings. If you have a few days off a week, maybe insert your writing time into those days.
There’s no right or wrong way to allocate your writing time, but make sure it makes sense for you. You don’t want to fall into a habit of not working on your book, so make sure it’s something you can adhere to.
Don’t worry about mistakes or gaps
One thing that’s difficult about the first draft is the need for it to be “perfect.” Oftentimes, writers can get tripped up in wanting to word something exactly or finding the perfect way to describe a place.
This is the first draft, so of course things might mold and change as you navigate through the piece. It’s okay that you don’t know exactly how to describe the water, but leave a placeholder there for when you go back and revise.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to slop through the first draft. If you’re going to write many scenes that will mostly be changed, then it’s best to spend some time on them. Just don’t get hung up on every detail.
Give Yourself Milestones
Another way to make it to the finish line on your first draft is giving yourself milestones. That could be something as simple as “for every 10,000 words, I’m going to buy myself an ice cream” or “I’m not going to watch Netflix until I put my 1,000 words in today.”
Whatever you do, hold yourself accountable. You want to make sure that you’re meeting your writing goals consistently when it comes to finishing your first draft. That way your first draft will be finished on time.
But don’t royally beat yourself up if you don’t meet a goal — things do happen, but don’t make it a habit. Try to adhere to your milestones as best as you can.
Make Sure You’re Committed
Another way to make sure your writing a good first draft is to keep your commitment for the project. If you find after a paragraph the fire in your belly has died, then maybe you aren’t as interested in writing this as you originally had thought.
However, that doesn’t mean always waiting on inspiration. You’re going to have to write when you aren’t inspired, but you need to make sure you’re 100% about finishing the project. Chances are, you’ll be successful in finishing your story if you consistently find reasons to work on it.
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