Wednesday, 23 December 2009

How I Made it to the Finishing Line

A few people have asked me for some tips on writing the first draft. The easy answer is bum on seat and WRITE! But I thought I would be the longer answer on here. These are not rules but my method. I hope they can help someone else too.


Three failed attempts. Some people would have given up, headed back to the poetry and short stories, maybe tried again in another decade. I did not want to be beaten.

Having ‘thinking time’

I let the idea swim around. Made notes, Gave some thoughts to the plot.


I normally write a few hundred words and then make a few scribbled notes. Planning is for school assignments but this time I planned the structure. Post-it notes were my saviour.


Dragging yourself to the writing desk after a full day at the office is sometimes hard. Spending 7.5 hours staring at the screen only to come home and do the same for another 2-3 hours in the evening. I needed a target – initially 250 words every day. Nearer the end it was 500.

Letting Go

Just writing the book that I want to read and not writing for the market.

Not caring about the first draft being perfect.


I stopped reading ‘writing manuals’ for the whole time I was writing the novel. My only concern was about getting the story on to the page. ‘Technical’ bits are for later.

Other things that helped:

  • Drinking hot blackcurrant.
  • Remembering Anne Lamott’s in ‘Bird by Bird’ – first drafts can be shitty. That is their purpose.
  • Reading other writers blogs as they recorded their novel progress.
  • Keeping a notebook near me at all times – ideas always spring up when you least expect them.


Jessie Carty said...

good solid tips :) the biggest one to just do it! that's why i like nanowrimo you have a goal each day to try and get to!

Jessica said...

Thanks :)

green ink said...

Brilliant. Just brilliant. Exactly what I needed to hear :)