A Writer's Journey

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Victor Hugo

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Writing Wednesday: The First Draft Finish Line

Today's Writing Wednesday topic focuses on finishing that first draft. If some of you are like me, you fight the overwhelming need to revise as you write as opposed to just getting the whole story out first and then tackling the dreaded revisions after. This was the case with the first couple of writing projects I started and you know what? Those are the ones I never finished. After scoring a few awesomesauce critique partners for the current project I'm working on, I've learned that the revise-as-you-go thing really wasn't working out so well for me.

With their help, a new discipline in me was born. Visualize the story. Get a feeling for it. Get to know my characters. Help them fit into the story that I'm trying to convey. THEN FINISH THE STORY. After I've finished, then and ONLY THEN should the revisions begin.

Don't mind that it sucks the first time around. Push back the thoughts that no one except your mother who's obligated to tell you how awesomesauce you are will read the pile of crap you've just unloaded on that unwitting MS Word document. Or that grammar, syntax, plot holes, and general vortex-inducing mistakes are all over that bad boy.

Forget it all.


Keeping that very simple, very focused goal was what helped me to overlook the suckery of the first draft blues. I found this method worked better than my previous revise-as-you-go strategy because of two very important reasons:

1) All writers are their own worst critics and there will always be room to revise SOMETHING. This makes finishing that first draft milestone seem highly unreachable.

2) Stopping in the middle to change something may prevent further development of something already existing.

How do you know scene x wasn't going to work? Does the flow really work well if scene y was taken out, only to make sense because of a future scene yet to be written? I'm sure there are other questions that could totally point out how valid the aforementioned reasons are, but I'll try not to write a novella of a blog post.

What brought on this sudden clarity? This A-Ha! moment, so to speak? Well, besides my previously mentioned stellar CPs. *laughs*

I'm currently writing the last, yes folks, the LAST chapter of my current WIP. *insert totally excited girly squee here* And let me tell you, it didn't come without much ass kicking and chapter bribery *cough*LORI*cough* from my critique partners! But I'm on the horizon of a great milestone in my feeble attempt at trying out this I-wanna-be-a-writer business. My very first completed manuscript. Okay, not totally completed because the ridiculous amount of revisions is just beyond that horizon, but hey...let me enjoy the pink sparkly moment, will ya? *throws pink confetti just because*

How did you finally make it to that first draft finish line? Did you revise as you wrote or wait until the end?

And now for our regularly scheduled pretty... (Disney-themed! *grins*)


  1. NaNoWriMo. Seriously. I'd never finished a novel before that awesome monthfest and I finished two more because of it.

  2. One of these days, I'm actually going to attempt NaNo. LOL When's the next one coming again?

  3. First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS! Finishing your first WIP is immensely exciting and absolutely something to celebrate.

    Second, this post is exactly right. Don't worry about the first draft being crappy--they nearly always are. The point is to get the story down so that you can make it brilliant later.

    Finally, that being said, I do minimal amounts of revising while writing the first draft--I read what I wrote the day before and make occasional changes. This helps me a) get into the writing mood and b) remember what I wrote the day before. The rule is that I move forward from there. I'm not allowed to look at anything before what I wrote yesterday.

  4. This is SO ME. My internal editor just will not shut up. Haha. So I'm still trying to get the hang of this blast through the first draft thing. NaNo helps a lot. The collective craziness and permission for suckage keeps me on task.

    You still have time before this November to think of something to write! ;)

  5. @Ava Thanks, sweets! :D I'm pretty stoked about it. I'm about a third into the last chapter as of last night. I admit, I kind of peek back into the last chapter, but usually just the last few pages. I literally have to tell myself "NO. DO NOT EDIT. RESIST." LOL!

    @Krispy Is the next NaNo thing this November?? I might be able to swing that. My last class ends Oct. 31st and I'm already fleshing out my outline for my next project. Does it start Nov. 1st? Also, my internal editor will NOT shut up, no matter how much I tell it to. It's all about ignoring from here. LMAO!

  6. I have finished two full manuscripts with revisions only to shelve them for now. But I do remember how proud I was of myself for at least making it to the top of my Everest. so you go girl:)

  7. It is SO hard for me to not revise as I write, but that's why it takes me so stinking long. And really, where does it get me? Nowhere. I'm taking just as long to edit now that I've finished the draft as it would have had I just written it without editing along the way...

    Yay for being so close to done! I'm so excited for you!

  8. Congrats on your almost-finished first draft!! Also congrats on getting over the 'need to revise'!! I get so much more accomplished (writing-wise) when I just WRITE and save the revisions for later.

  9. Congrats! That's awesome! :D I have such a hard time not worrying about suckage. I hate writing crappiness! But I totally need to stop over-thinking. I'm hoping I'll be able to finish a manuscript, too! :)