If you’re wondering how to write your first draft, don’t miss these tips from writers who have faced many, many blank computer screens. Writing the first draft is the first step to getting your book published!
Before the tips, a quip:
“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” ~ Agatha Christie.
You don’t need to be literally writing to plan your first draft…but you eventually need to face that blank page. Don’t shrug off the importance of daydreaming and thinking about your first draft…but don’t let your daydreams and thoughts turn into procrastination or just plain laziness.
For help from start to finish, read First Draft in 30 Days.
And, here are six tips to get you started…
How to Write the First Draft
1. Avoid editing your writing. Let your ideas and thoughts flow. “When you first put pen to paper, try not to edit yourself and let all your ideas loose, even if you believe they are stupid, cliched, or poorly written. Learn to embrace the process of revising and editing your writing. If you work hard on subsequent drafts, remain persistent, and learn how to be both gentle and honest with yourself, you will make great leaps from draft to draft.” – Laryssa Wirstiuk, founder and editor-in-chief of Too Shy to Stop.
2. Keep your writing plain and simple. “Write the first draft without adjectives and adverbs. You can always add text, but once you’ve added a word, it’s much harder to bring yourself to edit the flowery prose.” – Kate Lee.
3. Let your writing chill. “First: Start with a legal pad, outline it. Second: Write a first draft, close it and walk away till morning – you’ll have great ideas after you’ve left it alone for a while. Third: Pretend to tell the story, description, topic to a friend – then write it the way it came out of your mouth.” – Angela Moore. (This writing tip is a great way to find your writer’s voice).
4. Write for yourself first. “The best writing tip that I ever received was from my high school creative writing teacher, (the late) Ms. Daisy Aldan. She told us to write for ourselves first and worry about the corrections later. If you get so tangled up in spelling and grammatical etiquette, then you will interrupt the flow of thought. Your writing will be disjointed.” - Chelle Cordero, author.
5. Write a bad first draft. “This writing tip doesn’t suggest abandoning your standards -just (temporarily) your internal editor. For writers who have a strong superego calling the shots, getting anything onto paper can be a real challenge. Giving yourself the room for imperfection, at least while you’re writing the first draft, is an encouraging and necessary condition for creativity.” – Claire Bardos, screenplay writer.
If you wrestle with perfectionism, you may be paralyzed by the thought of writing your first draft. Give yourself permission to write poorly!
6. Use words you know…and that readers know. “The best writing tip I received came from a journalism professor who was a former editor at National Geographic. She taught students to write in simple language. Don’t use uncommon or “big” word to show off the fact that you know what a particular word means. Write so your readers understand. Your goal as a writer is to enlighten or educate the reader.” – Andrea Aker.
If you struggle with self-discipline, read Motivation to Write – How Writers Get and Stay Motivated.