Wednesday, November 17

Perseverance Through the First Draft: A Guest Post by Melissa

To continue the guest posts this week, my critique partner Melissa from Chasing the Dream is here to talk to you all! Mel is currently revising her first novel, a YA Dystopian.


I was going to title this post “How to Keep From Setting Your First Draft on Fire,” but I thought to myself Hey, that’s not a good way of thinking. And I promised Natalie I was going to write about perseverance while drafting, so what better way to begin by having a positive title? ;)

Anyway, writers generally have two ways of thinking when they’re working on the first draft of their WiP: they love it or hate it. Then there’s folks like me who do a little of both. Seriously, some days I’d fly through a chapter, loving every word that flowed from my fingers. Others, I’d sit and stare and stare and stare some more, hating every word I’d written. Then I’d get discouraged and procrastinate (my procrastination methods of choice are Twitter and blogging). Sometimes the procrastination would last for days. *whispers* Or weeks. Trust me, you do NOT want to do that. So here are a few ways to keep yourself going until that first draft is done.

1.  Tell yourself to keep writing, no matter what. Yes, I know it’s tough, but if you stop for a very long period of time it’s even harder to start writing again. If you feel you absolutely have to take a break, make sure it’s only for a day or two. Keep the writing momentum going.

2.  Get some cheerleaders. Not real cheerleaders, but folks who understand how important writing is to you. It could be anyone: spouse, friends, siblings, your kids, or critique partners. In my case, I couldn’t live without my CPs. They’ve talked me down from the ledge more times than I can remember =)

3.  Reward yourself. Set a daily or weekly goal of what you want to achieve and pick out something you really want. If you meet your goal, watch that movie you’ve been dying to see or buy something you’ve been eyeing in the stores for a while.

4.  Understand that the first draft is going to be bad and accept it. If you listen to the EIE (Evil Inner Editor) too much during the first draft, you’ll never finish. You’ll avoid letting others read your work in fear of causing them permanent eye damage, therefore making them to hate you forever and ever. Not so. By embracing whatever comes forth, you will keep the writing momentum going (see number 1). Then you’ll end up with a draft that CAN and WILL be fixed.

5.  Realize your draft is going to shine during revisions. First drafts are for getting the story out of your system. It’s getting the framework down on paper. It’s putting the clay on the potter’s wheel. Revising is when your story will really take shape and become its sparkly best. After all, diamonds don’t look like they do in the jewelry store when they’re first mined, right?

There you have it folks. These methods may not work for everybody, but they’ve helped me.

Do you have any methods to stay positive while drafting your books?

Tomorrow, Tina Lynn from Sweet Niblets is going to blog about beginnings, so don't miss it!


  1. I was really stressing about the first draft of my first novel, which I am finally working on after procrastinating trying again and again to write an outline. I have written the beginning few scenes for about 400 GREAT novels, but alas, that is where it ended.

    I signed up to do NaNo and started blogging, so I would have some accountability, even if it's only virtual. And I finally figured out that, for me, the first draft is just a really long, detailed, rough outline. Eureka!

    I read that JR Ward's outline for Dark Lover was 40K+ words...sounds like a rough draft to me!

  2. (Crap, no *real* cheerleaders, then?) Sorry girls, the pyramid is lovely but you should probably get down... thanks, yes you can leave the giant "Diana Rocks 'Da House" banner, I like it.

    Seriously fantastic post Natalie. Getting through a draft is crucial, and so many don't get there. Every point you made is spot on. And I'm like you, I both love *and* hate my writing... I tend to LOVE the idea more than my writing though haha!

  3. Ha! I love that original title, too ;)

    The first draft can be thrilling, but also excruciating! Great tips. And smart thinking on the not-real-cheerleaders. That might make it hard to focus on the writing!

  4. Oh, boy...this is the gods' honest truth. I had serious trouble getting through that first draft. Amen to nixing procrastination. Love it or hate it, just get it down. NaNo has taught me that. *waves to Nat*

  5. Awesome post Melissa! Some great suggestions.

    For me-because I just can't turn off my EIE--I push through by sending stuff to my CPs. I tend to wait till I get through 3-5 chapters. Then I go back and do some loose revision. Then off they go to CPs. That way I can't touch them anymore, and usually the feedback I get from my CPs helps me stay on course for the rest of the draft. It was scary the first time I let anyone see something so...rough. But it's really helped keeping me move forward.

  6. As I'm just starting a new project, this is timely. I spent so much time on revising my last project, I'd forgotten how awful 1st drafts are. Thanks for the reminder that it's okay for it to stink!

  7. "How not to set your first draft on fire," LOL! That is awesome! Thank you for this great advice. I will step away from the lighter now...

  8. Mel- Thanks to you as well for being so kind in guest posting for Natalie. There really are real-life nice people out there still ♥.

  9. Teri Anne - Good luck with Nano and with blogging! I've never tried Nano, but two of my CPs are right now and they swear it's helping them with drafting. No procrastination allowed;)

    Di - That banner HAS to stay! It's so true! Oh, I'm the same way - I think my idea is awesome, but the writing needs lots of work.

    Carol - Yep, real cheerleaders would be WAY too distracting. And I don't need to procrastinate any more than I already do, lol!]

    Tina - Just get it down - that could be our new first draft motto. Looking forward to JaNo!

    Shannon - Ooh, I do something similar. I send each chapter as I finish it to my CPs. Scary stuff in there, but it works.

    Susan - Learning that it's okay to write junk for the first draft was the hardest thing to accept, but once I did I finally got over my slump and finished.

    Heather - Lol, thank you! And run away from that lighter;)

    Lynne - *blushes* Aww, thanks! Nat is so wonderful - I didn't mind doing a post for her. She is a talented writer and a great friend:)

    Valerie - Thank you!

    Nat - Thanks for having me here today! It's been a blast!!!!

  10. Great tips! =)

    The hardest part of me is shutting the Internal Editor off. She's such a pain in the arse!

  11. Mel-What a wonderful post!! Thank you for posting for me hun! ♥ xoxoxo


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