I finally reached 50,000 words in my novel that I began writing many months ago. It’s taken me a while for various reasons (imposter syndrome, depression, low to no creativity), but hot damn, here we are! 50k translates to about 165 pages in a novel or manuscript. Do I love every part that I have written? No. Am I going to keep going despite my perfectionist standards? Yes. Yes. And yes.
Here are the top five things I’ve learned writing a first draft:
5. Tell your imposter syndrome to fuck right off
I’ve been writing this novel in my head for several years now. Why did it take me so long to put fingers to keys? Imposter syndrome. Yes, here she is again. The beezy that takes down my confidence every time. Here’s what she told me: “No one is going to be interested in this”, “Who do I think I am writing a novel?”, and my favorite “You do not know how to write.” Most days she would win. But on the days she didn’t, I wrote fiendishly.
4. Everyone’s process for writing is different
And that’s okay! You will have to find the right one for you. I’ve read many, many blog posts, articles, books, etc. about the writing process. Some writers swear by creating an outline at the outset of their writing adventure, like my father who majored in creative writing in college. Conversely, I made my outline when I got stuck in the plot, about half of the way through, when I didn’t know where I wanted the story to travel. Writing an outline first is very intimidating and feels formulaic to me. It also felt like it staunched my creativity. And if you never want an outline, great! It just helped me organize the story in my brain when I came upon writer’s block.
3. Don’t assign a moral value to writing
This particular one I learned in therapy. If I didn’t write because I didn’t feel like it, I would literally think I was being “bad”. Which sounds silly, but when put like, “I am so bad for not writing!”, it’s a bit more normal sounding. Writing and not writing just is. If you don’t write, it’s okay! Don’t punish yourself. Some writers die on the write-even-if-you-don’t-want-to hill. I completely disagree. This whole process is supposed to be fun, free. Assigning moral value will immediately extinguish the freedom.
2. If you don’t like what you’re writing, scrap it
I found myself creating scenes, building worlds, making laws for these new worlds, and sometimes a scene I was writing would bore me, especially the mechanics of advanced technology. (I don’t even know how my computer works, honestly.) If you’re feeling yourself losing your focus, or if you feel boredom while writing, it’s possible no one else will want to read it either. Let yourself go somewhere else, somewhere interesting and captivating to you.
1. Keep Going!
This has been the hardest and most liberating lesson. What a dichotomy, right? The number one goal of a first draft is to finish. You don’t have to love every part, and you don’t have to have it ready for publishing after you finish it. You will reread and rewrite what you’ve written about a million times. Just get the whole thing on paper. We can do it!
Oh, and a bonus one: write down all your ideas for scenes, plot, character development, mood, tone, and even cool words. I am plagued by not remembering my great ideas, so as soon as one pops into my head, I pull out my phone and write it into a note.
To all of my friends and family whom I’ve asked to be my readers, I am getting there. It’s scary to hand over your work of art, but I’m glad it will be in your hands. I just have to make it to the end first!
Have you thought about writing a book? If so, what genre?