If you follow me on twitter, you probably know already that I recently finished the first draft of my first novel. Having never written a full first draft before, I would scour pinterest for all the tips and tricks I could find, desperately hoping that I would stumble across the secret to writing a perfectly polished first draft in two minutes. Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret of my own: That doesn’t exist. Not what you wanted to hear? Me neither. But I’m going to give you the REAL advice that helped me to complete my first draft.
1. Just write. Seriously.
There’s no other real tip. As hard as it might be to hear when you’re staring at a blank page praying for the literary gods to bestow the perfect words upon you, the only way that first draft is getting completed is if you WRITE. Don’t re-read. Don’t edit. Don’t think too much about it. Just write, no matter what. To be completely honest, that’s the only piece of advice you truly need to complete your first draft, but here are some more useful tips to make things a little bit easier.
2. Allow your first draft to suck.
I’m not saying it will. In fact, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with your first draft – give yourself some credit, you’re a great writer! But don’t stress yourself out by trying to make your first draft perfect. Remind yourself that there’s no pressure. You are the only person who has to read this perfect mess of a first draft. You can fix the flaws laters. Stop putting pressure on yourself and write like a child: free of fear of judgement and full of imagination.
3. Set yourself a deadline, but don’t stick to it.
It’s okay to set yourself a deadline, but don’t stress yourself out by trying to religiously stick to it. For example, I set myself the goal of completing my first draft in three months but in the end, thanks to the little curveballs life throws, it ended up taking me closer to four months. I’m glad that I took that extra little bit of time and, trust me, you will be too. Setting deadlines is great for staying on track, but work at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
4. Chocolate. And lots of it.
Do you know how many packets of chocolate buttons I got through while writing my first draft? Because I don’t. I wrote most of my novel curled up under a duvet with as much chocolate as I could find, and you know what? It made the (sometimes) tedious job of writing into a cosy and enjoyable thing that I looked forward to each day. Trust me, I’m TOTALLY sure that Shakespeare used to write under a duvet with a big bar of Cadbury’s.
5. But seriously, just write.
That’s the only real piece of advice you need. Just sit down with a big mug of coffee, and write that future best-seller, you talented writer, you.