Monday, July 18, 2011

First Draft Frustrations

Right now I'm working on the rough draft of my next novel, and I am at that point where I'm ready to tear my hair out.

This is how my SOUL feels right now. This.

I think some of my frustration stems from the fact that I'm trying to get it perfect the first time (haha). I'm trying to nail every character, every scene, every line of exposition before I move forward. This is a mistake I make with a lot of manuscripts, unfortunately.

I gave myself a stern lecture about it last night. What I need to do (or at least, what has worked fabulously for me in the past) is write as fast as I can, getting down the bare bones of the story, writing the necessary scenes, capturing the raw emotions as best as I can, sketching out the setting--but not worrying about making it perfect yet. Then I can go back, reread, take stock of what I've done, and add what I need to strengthen and clarify the characters and the story. 

This take-off-running-and-don't-look-back strategy is how I manage to write a first draft quickly. It's also how I avoid copious amounts of stress (because that agonizing-over-perfection thing KILLS me) and it's how I keep from stalling out and never finishing the book.

I found this marvelous quote on Twitter today, and it is perfect advice for me right now:

"No thinking - that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. ~Finding Forrester

I just need to write with my heart, I guess. Get all that emotion down first.

But UGH. It is HARD. Hard, I tell you!!

Is anyone else going through first draft frustrations right now? What works for you?


  1. It's so important to just get the words out during a first draft, rather than striving for perfection. You know there are going to be numerous drafts and revisions anyway, so why not get to that point faster by not trying for perfection the first time.

    Of course, it's easier said than done (isn't that always the way? lol) Perhaps you should duct tape your hands to the keyboard so you can't rip your hair out. ;)

  2. Rachel: Thanks! I have been hard at work this morning and I think I'm making progress!

  3. I do the 'write the first draft as fast as possible thing' too. It works for me usually, although I have found,with the one I'm trying to revise at the moment, I changed my mind so much about the plot that the first five chapters are pretty useless.

  4. First drafts are my favourite part of the whole process! Revising is where I can get stuck! :)

  5. Oh man, reading this makes me feel better. I'm definitely going through the first draft frustrations right now. I want this book to come out of my head perfectly formed in, like, a month. That's enough time, right?

    I end up having to just chant in my head, "Just write." Since I'm a pantser, I won't have any ideas until I write even if I know what I need to get done. And then once I write something, I'm going to end up rewriting it.

    So inefficient!

  6. NM Martinez: That sounds like me. I'll be like, I wrote my last book in 5 weeks. Surely I can write this one in like, 4. The problem is that no two books come out the same way...


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