Friday 30 October 2020

Getting the First Draft Down - By Tamsin Cooke

 I don't know if any of you have ever done NaNoWriMo?

It's when you aim to write 50 000 words in one month, about 1600 words a day. It takes place in November and is a great way of keeping you inspired and on target. There's lots of support and it's free to join. In case you are interested, here's a link to their website

I did it a couple of years ago, and by the end of the month, I had a first draft of a story. Admittedly it needed an awful lot of work - but first drafts always do! Unfortunately the book didn't sell, but NaNo taught me that I am capable of knuckling down. 

And so I am planning to do it again this year. I have an idea and I'm ready to write. In fact I've been ready to write for a while but I have been procrastinating. My house is clean, the dog has never been walked so much, and I might be going for the Olympic record in bingewatching Netflix. Never have such few words been written in such a long time. 

I have written a beginning but I seem to be preoccupied in making sure it has a killer first few chapters. But I can work that out later. Instead of going over and over the same few pages, I need to get the first draft down to make sure the story actually works. Which is why I am doing NaNo. And once the words are down, then I can play with them.

It's great to know that most authors (possibly even all of them) hate their first drafts too.

"The first draft of anything is shit," by Ernest Hemingway

'For me, it's always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I'm doing in a first draft isn't important. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it does not matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that's the thing that you may be agonzing over, but honestly, whatever you're doing can be fixed ... For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it," by Neil Gaiman

"I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts ... so it doesn't really matter much on a particualr day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers froever becasue there's a 90 percent chance I'm just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating," by John Green

"The first draft is a skeleton... just bare bones. The rest of the story comes later with revising," by Judy Blume

So I am going to give myself permission to write an awful first draft. I will embrace the mess and plan on fixing it later!

Tamsin Cooke
Author of The Scarlet Files Series and Stunt Double Series
Twitter: @TamsinCooke1 


Joan Lennon said...

Go Tamsin! Let those fingers fly!

Tamsin Cooke said...

Thank you so much, Joan. My fingers are poised...