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Tips to writing a first draft – Getting it down and getting it done:

1. Have a plan: some writers call this an outline. Some writers balk at the idea of writing an outline. The outline will take too long to write. They just want to get started. That’s fine. You don’t need a detailed outline to get started. But at least have a plan, or at least some idea of where you are going. Jot down a couple of points or ideas on a sticky note. How can you get somewhere if you have no idea where you are going?

2. Turn off that annoying voice in your head: some writers call this the internal editor. Tell that critical voice in your head to shut up already. Don’t listen to its knit picking. Just write and ignore all your internal editor has to say. So what if you wrote sounds stupid? This is a first draft. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Your internal editor may come in handy during revisions. Just shut it up for now.

3. Let the ink flow: some writers call this the drivel draft. Let it all out. It doesn’t matter what it is or how it looks, whether you’ve spelled words incorrectly or spewed forth clichés by the million. Ignore the rules. Embrace whacky ideas. Don’t look things up and don’t be distracted by research. Leave blanks to be filled in later or insert parentheses or asterisks near words for which you want to find a synonym. Don’t worry about order or sequence. Start at the beginning, start at the end. Or start in the middle. Just start and don’t stop.

4. Choose your poison: some writers call this pen and paper. Use whatever tools will help you get your first draft down quickly. Put pen to paper, fingertips to keyboard, or use a Dictaphone.

5. Imagine you’re having a conversation: some writers call this voice. Most of us find it easier to have a conversation than to write correspondence. Words flow when you are talking to somebody. You don’t concentrate as much on how you say something or the words you are using – you just tell them what it is you want to tell them. If you imagine you are speaking to a friend or family member you might find your first draft easier to write.

6. Give yourself goals and deadlines:  some writers call this momentum. Set yourself realistic goals like 500 - 1000 words a day or two chapters a week. Set a deadline for your first draft to be completed by and mark your calendar. Handcuff yourself to the desk or superglue your butt in the chair, whatever it takes to get you to commit to your goal. It doesn’t matter if you end up with 500 words of complete rubbish – that’s what revisions are for. They’ll be gems in there somewhere – trust me.

Have courage and don’t stress - first drafts are only the beginning. It’s impossible to revise a blank page.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 9th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
Clever girl. And now I can quoteskim from you this week. Hee.
Feb. 9th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)

That's me quoting you on how I feel about you quoting me.

Feb. 9th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 10th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Key! I knew I'd forgotten something. The superglue might be problematic also. But at least the first draft will be done.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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