Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

Q&A Series Part V: “How Do You Write a First Draft?”

sands writing

Hi all, and welcome back to my Q&A series, where I answer your questions in long-form on my blog! This week I decided to answer a Frequently Asked Question from Goodreads, which asks, “How do you motivate yourself to get through writing the first draft of a book?”

Writing a first draft of a book is an exciting, scary, and sometimes even emotional experience for writers, but it can also be one of the best parts of the writing process! To help you out, I’m offering you the best four tips I have to get through it as painlessly as possible.

Write an outline. You don’t have to write a thoroughly detailed outline of every chapter of your book (though you are more than welcome to do so), but having a basic idea of where you want your story to go, and basic plot points along the way to help you get there, will make writing your first draft much less daunting. Sitting down to write when you have no idea what you should be writing makes the process much more difficult, and makes you less likely to sit down and do it!

Stay flexible. This might sound counterintuitive after my first tip, but even with an outline it is important to let your characters and story develop during the writing process. As you connect more with your story, you might start to realize that plot points and characterizations you thought of before you started no longer make sense. Be open to following your story on the journey it takes you on instead of rigidly hanging on to your outline.

Turn your writing time into a reward. Instead of saying you’ll reward yourself with an hour of Netflix after a long day, reward yourself with a writing session. Nothing is more therapeutic than escaping into a world of your own creation for an hour or two, and the more you associate writing time with self-care time, the happier you will be to end your day with a writing session!

Don’t worry about making it good. Your first draft won’t be good, no matter how much time and effort you put into it. It will be a mess of you figuring out your story as you go, filled with typos and words you will cringe to read back. But it will be done, and you will be able to fix it from there. The only job of a first draft is to exist, so don’t be afraid that your writing isn’t good enough—you’ll have time to make it good later!

I hope this answered your question! Make sure to keep sending me any questions you have via this blog, Goodreads, or Twitter/Facebook.

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