Writing the first draft is one of my favourite parts of the writing process. (World building and creating magic systems take the top spot). But I know it’s a lot of people’s most hated part, and some of you even prefer editing *shudder*.
So, I thought I’d share a few quick and simple tips for getting that first draft done, whether you’re a plotter or a pantser. Here we go:
Write a scene/chapter summary at the top of each new page to refer to whenever you get stuck.
Okay, this one is more for the plotters amongst us, but even a lot of pantsers have a general idea of where the story needs to go before it reaches its ultimate conclusion. If you know some of the essential beats or big plot events that will happen in your story, jot them down and paste them throughout your document so that when you finish the first beat you have an idea of the next one. Or, if you’re an outline obsessive, like me, you can write a paragraph at the top of every single chapter so you never find yourself staring at a blank document with no idea what’s supposed to happen next.
Stop in the middle of the action so you know exactly what’s happening when you come back to it.
This is the one I find the hardest to put into practice, I much prefer ending a writing session with a complete scene, but if you want to hit the ground running the next day, this one works a treat. Just close your laptop mid-battle/kiss/argument/revelation and when you open it again tomorrow you can carry on from there, easing you into a new writing session with as little pain or procrastination as possible.
Leave yourself a short note about what needs to happen next at the end of each writing session.
This one works if you’re like me and hate to stop in the middle of a scene. When you’re in the flow of the story, you probably know exactly where it’s going next, but you have to stop at some point to eat/walk the dog/socialise with your friends or family. It’s a drag, I know. Just kidding, but if you quickly scribble down a summary of the next scene before you stop for the day, you’ll thank yourself tomorrow when you don’t have to spend ages rereading your last few pages or trying to think of what to write next.
And there you have it, three very simple and effective ways to help yourself get that first draft finished and move on to the next phase of your publishing journey!