First-Draft

I am lonely again.
Sitting silently,
The breeze hounds at my window
And rattles wooden frames.
  
There are birds in the rafters
Making a mess of the plums.
  
Summer fruit spills
Like blood from the ceiling,
Dripping
In anguish.
 
Oh, my heart wishes
That this body was a home.
The way it speaks of silence
Says it all.
 
I watch through my window,
Four years,
The world spins faster
Every time.
 
I am lonely again
And I can’t seem to shake
The fruitless winter
That has swallowed me whole.
—  poeticallyordinary
Don't Set Your First Drafts on Fire

Don’t delete the word document.

And don’t throw away that notebook! 

It’s tempting, I know. I say this as someone who started writing in middle school, a story that involved, of all things, spirit animals that gave you superpowers. It was as gross as it sounds. But I was so into it that I typed them up and got them printed at Kinko’s. And you know what? I still have the notebooks they were originally written in, and I still have those Kinko’s copies. They’re cringy, and I hardly ever read them, but I still have them.

And I think it’s important that I do. Wanna know why? There’s a few reasons.

It’s important to remember where you started. If you lose sight of that, how will you know where you want to go in the future? I’ve got vivid memories of asking my parents to unlock our desktop so I could spend hours typing up the chapters I had scrawled that day at school. And because I remember this, I know just how badly I want to see my stories go from silly notebook scrawls to published work.

On that note, it’s nice to see yourself improve. On the occasion that you feel badly about your writing skills, or you’re feeling nostalgic, having those old drafts to look back on can be really valuable. 

If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? You shouldn’t beat up a younger you for not being as experienced as present day you. I know my middle school writer self had fun writing those stories, even if they did involve magic and souls and spirit animals.

Maybe it’ll take you a while to accept your earlier rough drafts, and that’s okay. I’m still trying to adopt this positive mentality myself. We can all try together, huh?

Hey! If there’s something you want to see me post about, you want to ask about my writing, or you just want to say hi, feel free to send me an ask! I’d love to hear from you.

Writing Inspiration 💜

Hey, are you stuck writing your first draft? Please, remember that first drafts don’t have to be pretty— they just have to be written. Okay?

Seriously. Culture puts a lot of pressure on writers (specially young writers) to make something amazing right off the start, but that just isn’t how writing works. First drafts are always bad. Always. How could they not be? You’re experiencing the story firsthand. I’ve met so many writers over the years who get stuck trying to make the first draft good because they think it’ll save time later on. SPOILERS: It doesn’t.

Here’s a piece of advice:

Nothing wastes time like trying to save time.

Just write your book. As the story changes (and it will) make notes of what you’ll fix later. Keep writing. Don’t stop ‘til the end. Remember that as a writer you don’t have to get it “right” on the first try. Revision is your best friend. Give it a call when you’re done. Okay? Okay.

I hope this helps. Keep writing, writerly friend~ ⭐️

6 tips to writing your first draft

‣ Write how you want the story to begin and end. Just a few sentences that will summarize what changes happen in the novel, talk it over with some friends to have a better idea of the plot.
‣ Write an outline (you don’t have to follow the outline to a T, there will be change as you go along)
‣ Don’t go back and edit in the first draft this could make you feel discouraged. It probably won’t be the best but wait until the whole story is down before you rework it.
‣ Place holders can be used if you don’t know information. Researching everything can slow down the process so use a place holder so you know where you need to go back and edit once the first draft is done.
‣ Have daily goals. Whether it’s to write an hour a day or write 1000 words a day daily goals help in the short term.
‣ Have a deadline. I myself have 100 days to write a first draft, I know it will be difficult but having it there will pressure me into writing so it gets completed.

Novel Writing Tools: The Draft Notebook

The best advice I can give for finishing a first draft is this: find the motivation to keep moving forward. Three easy ways to this are to give yourself a deadline, keep track of your daily word count, and save the editing for later. This means that the most useful tool you can arm yourself with to get through a first draft is a simple draft notebook. 

There are only two components to a draft notebook: the productivity tracker and the idea diary. 

The Productivity Tracker

In the first two page spread of your notebook, sketch a 4-week calendar. Depending on your personal deadline, you may want to use the next few spreads for additional months. A three-month timeline is a wonderful goal, if you have no NaNoWriMo plans. 

Give yourself a daily word count goal, based on the estimated length of your novel and your deadline. You can also mark out days where you know you won’t be writing, and adjust your daily wc goal accordingly. (Have super busy Saturdays? Plan on taking those days off from the start.)  

Write your daily goal somewhere to the side of your calendar, just so you have it. 

Make tracking your daily goals fun. 

  • Use stars to log your writing progress. (ex. One star equals 500 words, with a daily goal of 1500 words.) 
  • Fill in the squares of days you’ve reached your goal with pretty colors. 
  • Put scratch and sniff stickers on the days you’ve reached your goal. Whatever works for you. 

You can also use a bar-graph tracker, using your total word goal as the y-axis, the date as the x-axis, and your daily goal as a line to hit each day. 

If you want advice for sketching out your own calendar, check out bullet journal inspiration Tumblrs or scour Pinterest. Bullet journalists have that on a lock. 

The Idea Diary 

On the first blank page after your productivity tracker, write the date and everything you know about your new novel. This may be a four-page synopsis or a character’s name and age.

As you draft, update this section like a diary. Each day, write every new thing you discover about the story, everything you’re changing, you’re removing, you’re pondering. Write down all of the ideas that aren’t going into your draft that day. Keep it with you so you can jot down an idea that strikes you while you’re falling asleep at 1am or in the middle of cooking dinner. 

Use this to keep yourself from returning to an old chapter and editing everything. Let it give you solace that all of your brilliant ideas for the second draft are safely recorded. 

What happens once you finish the first draft?

Once you’re ready to start thinking about your next draft, you can read your diary section, and use all of those ideas to start planning your second draft. 

While working on your second draft, you can even keep adding to your notebook. Make a little “Draft Two” cover page, sketch a new calendar, and start a new diary section. 

The diary section will probably remain the same, with notes for future changes, except you might want to use your new first entry for a synopses, and a few main character profiles. The productivity tracker can be updated with goals for pages/chapters revised instead of words. 

If you need additional help making your way through a first draft, take a look at my other posts:

I hate how weird you are, the even way you walk down a cracked street, the sidewalk steps you make. I hate how you create cracked cliffs from concrete crevices, I hate the careful steps you take off the edge of my heart. You deserve the way you stumble over every curb like every hand that ever held yours, the way each weary touch sends electric wrinkles through every thread of your body. You deserve the way your ceramic hands are icy and foreign, the constant tremors that bleed from your heart.
I hate the way your words build up in my throat, I hate coughing up chalk dust and powdered nothingness when you ask me what’s on my mind. The racing waterfall of syllables and tidal waves of exclamations that evaporate from your soul leave me shriveled up beneath your cold feet. I hate how sure of yourself you are, your confidence makes me shudder, your voice leaves me shivering. I lose myself to your solar effect; the harder you try to warm up to me, the farther away from you I feel. You deserve the heat in your face when I call your name, the way it lights up when you speak about love. You deserve the burning satisfaction that your love ignites.
I hate the distance you put between us. The unspoken contract of us is still hanging unwritten, following me around and weaving in and out of my body. I hate your ever present silence, the white noise, the prickly static poking me with mute punctuation. I hate how your first initial stained onto your velvet skin retells stories better than your mouth. You can’t save me this time. The proximity we share has a direct effect on how I see the world. When all the dust begins to settle and my breath begins to level, I see specks of my shadow and realize I have lost my sense of vision completely. You deserve to see how life opens up, the blooming petals of love that take shape around your face when the fairy lights contort it a certain way. The way the world comes peacefully together around you, the way you stitch it back up every time the ground quivers beneath you, every time the sky cracks open and spills its sorrows upon you. You deserve every breath of relief after you hike through the hills and valleys of every planet in the universe.
You deserve everything the universe can give you.

I found more first draft stuff that I have to cut out!!!!!

::

Oliver grimaces and Richard sighs. “I won’t do anything to falsely lead the princess on.” A breeze sweeps in off the ocean, carrying a cool relief from the last of the day’s heat. It ruffles their hair and pulls at the thin collars of their jackets. Even with the soft cacophony of conversations and the press of people on all sides, the salty air begins to taste cool and light.

Richard continues. “I’m a suitor because the queen requested me to be there for Nessa, but I won’t trick her. I won’t pretend to feel things for her that I don’t feel. Even to make you feel better.”

When Oliver replies, his voice gets rougher with his distress, his accent becoming more prominent. “Is that what you think I want?” He knows that he’s always been rather transparent as far as Nessa goes, but it seems that they cannot read between the lines. If he could only express what he wanted, this wouldn’t be an issue. But between the rumors that stemmed from last night’s botched meeting and his uncomfortable audience with the king this morning, Oliver is not allowed to express anything at all.

Adam raises an eyebrow at him. “Maybe now isn’t the time for this conversation.”

Oliver ignores him and stares at Richard, wondering if he can say the right words without coming on too strong. “I want her to be safe,” he says passionately. “She’s comfortable around you. Please don’t let her lose that.”

Richard searches his expression for a long moment before clasping his shoulder. “I will always be friendly with her,” Richard promises, and then thinks for a moment before adding. “I will say yes if she should choose me. It’s what my father would want, anyway.”

Oliver feels another surge of bitterness well up inside him but he pushes it aside as he shrugs out from under Richard’s hand. “Yes,” he manages, feeling the word almost burn his tongue as it leaves him. He lets the acid linger for just a moment before shelving it away for later and wonders if he should feel guilty that it’s been just a day and Nessa seems to have wormed her way into the forefront of his thoughts.

How could she not? He saw her face last night, tight with stress and troubled, her burning eyes guarded against the world. He was severely questioned by the king over false rumors and all His Majesty could talk about was image, image, image when Nessa is the one who had been truly hurt by the assumptions. Oliver thinks about how untameable she’d been as a child and tries to reconcile that with the reserved way she’d held herself with every encounter since last night. What kind of burden comes with marrying herself off to a man she hardly knows?

More importantly: did she agree to this?

That question gnaws incessantly at him and he can’t go down that road. The king explicitly threatened Oliver’s already tattered reputation and livelihood should he be found alone with her again. He’s scarcely worried about his own name, but if His Majesty is so concerned with image, then it’s Nessa that Oliver has to look out for. That includes cutting himself off from her as much as possible.

5 Things I’ve I’ve Learned While Writing My First Manuscript

Hello and welcome to my first blog post! I’m Laura – an aspiring writer, as you may have guessed by the title of this post – and I, like many others, have made a lot of horrible mistakes and revelations with my first manuscript. While I’m only halfway through my first draft, being the masochistic, self-embarrassing person that I am, I thought I’d share what those lessons were.

1.      The first line is hard.

It’s even harder when you put all this pressure on it that you really don’t need. It’s just a collection of words, just like the rest of the novel.

Don’t fret.

2.     Don’t go back and edit.

There were so many times when I finished a chapter or a scene and then realized: Shit. That’s not how I mapped that character. Or, oh my god, I just missed out a HUGELY important part of that character’s backstory.

What I’ve learned is that it’s the hardest but the best thing you can do for your novel to just. Keep. Pushing. Through.

You’ve got to grit your teeth and remember that this is what second drafts are for, because if you go back and rewrite something every time you notice a mistake, you’ll never finish the stupid thing.

3.     Outlines can be really fun. Or they can be torture.

This lesson is kind of unavoidable as a newbie writer. If you’ve never outlined your book before, you won’t know what sort of outline you like. So you could get 20,000 words into the story (like me), realize you screwed up your outline because you did it on Word instead of post-it notes, and lose your damn mind.

“Why is everything so disorganized!?” You scream, before slamming your head against the keyboard for the millionth time.

Take a deep breath. Stop writing. Redo your freaking outline.

4.     Finish ALL character construction before you start writing.

I didn’t take this step seriously because I didn’t take my writing seriously in the beginning; it was just something I was dabbling in which I hadn’t done in years.

But if you’re considering writing a novel, you have to finish all your character construction 100% before you can start the novel.

A lot of my characters have half-finished outlines. So sadly, I’m gonna have to take a break from all the fun writing I’ve been doing to map them out halfway through the story.

5.     Don’t be too hard on yourself.

I’m actually pretty good at remembering this lesson, but I think every writer finds it invaluable.

You don’t need to be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald in the writing world to have an incredible work in your hands – or, well, your head.

Remember that it’s okay to make the above mistakes, and many more (seriously, I could list hundreds). Just push the negative thoughts away for a moment, and keep tapping at that keyboard. Good things are bound to come out of it if you work hard enough.

So that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to talk about once my novel is finished and once I move onto the editing phase for my novel. Thanks for reading this far and I’d love to hear some feedback!