Writing Related

TOP SEVEN TIPS FOR FINISHING YOUR FIRST DRAFT [guest post by Angela Watts)

October 14, 2019



today we have a post from one amazing writer, Angela R. Watts, on tips for finishing draft one.



So. You’re a writer. You’re also fairly certain it takes the blood of a rare golden dragon to finish a project. Never fear, friend. First drafts are gnarly beasts but they’re also fun! So buckle up and let’s visit my top seven tips on how to vanquish your demise: the first draft!

BAN SOCIAL MEDIA

The TOP tip of finishing your first draft: get. Off. Social. Media. Stop scrolling on Instagram and getting jealous of other authors. Stop listening to authors complain on Facebook. Stop refreshing your Goodreads feed to see what people are hating on today. Stop, stop, stop. I know every Indie author is all "build your social media platform before you even publish!" and I agree, but you gotta balance it. You can't spend hours online without spending hours on your project, too. You can't publish something that isn't there, haha!

YOU have a story to tell that only YOU can tell. Social media is super easy to drown in and compare yourself and your story to the whole wide world. You are not on their journey, you are on YOUR own journey. So own it. Don't let social media vanquish your voice or distract you, ever.

OUTLINING IS GOOD...

I advise outlines, but the problem most beginner writers have is outlining so much they never write and having no outline so they don't know where the project is going and thus, don't finish. Don't be like that!

HOW TO OUTLINE AND WHY YOU SHOULD: No writer "has" to do anything, but if you've pantsed this thing so long and still don't have a finished draft, step back and try outlining. Google some outlining articles and see what kind of BASIC outline you can come up with. If super detailed outlines aren't your thing, just have something simple you can follow along. This way, you can focus on writing instead of wondering "what happens again?"

BUT WHY YOU SHOULDN'T OVERTHINK THE OUTLINE... I've heard many "successful" authors remind newbie authors to "finish the first draft" and... Don't get so busy outlining and world building that you forget to actually write! Don't overwhelm yourself with too many details. Remember to actually write and don't waste time getting ready to write. A basic outline can be helpful but it doesn't control you in the end. Your characters do.


USE THE FORCE

First drafts are hard. Maybe you struggle with outlining, finding a good plot, or writing solid dialogue. Guess what? You're allowed to struggle. You aren't allowed to just give up because it's too hard. Finishing a first draft takes discipline.

So force yourself to exercise discipline. Some scenes simply don't work and you have to cut them, plow through, or even skip them, but don't give up on the story. Keep writing, even if it's "awful". Even if you don't feel it. A helpful tip is that my first drafts are often thousands of words MORE or LESS than the final draft, so sort of get that through your head, that the first draft is supposed to be fun, not right on the mark.

KNOW YOUR GOAL

Remember why you started. Keep a Pinterest board for the project, have a Spotify playlist you play while writing, or jot down reasons why this story is amazing in your journal before bedtime. Do not lose focus!

Another thing, set an attainable goal. If you're novel is 80k, and your mind refuses to see that as a possible goal, change it! Say your novel will stop at 50k and write a "skeleton" draft, as I call it. One of my longest novels (now over 300 pages) originally stood at barely over 150 pages! But that tiny first draft helped me grasp the story better. Every first draft must be written, so make your goals something you can reach and feel good about.


FIND YOUR GROOVE

If you just can't get the words out, here are some ways to get into your flow. 1.) Word sprints with friends. If you're in a group chat or have writer friends, set up word sprints where you guys set a timer and write for that allotted time. 2.) Play around with what times work for you. Do you work best writing for fifteen minutes with intermittent breaks? Or is a 30 minute sprint your style with ten minute breaks? 3.) What TIME do you write best? If you're only finding time to write at 11 PM every night... chances are, it could be a good idea to change your routine some.

Even if it means sacrificing some free time, working on your first draft will PAY OFF!

NEED A TREAT?

Say you set a goal of writing 1k a day... and you get it! Reward yourself with a short sitcom or a ten minute Youtube video, something to relax.

Considering having a "challenge day" a week where you write 5k. Have a bigger treat for the big goals. Obviously, you can't blow cash on treats, so make it easy: watch an old movie.

AND... the biggest treat... Just imagine your book in a bookstore, or in the hands of your friends, and keep writing that first draft. NOTHING can happen without the first draft being done. When your first draft is done, consider printing it out/binding it, too. It'll be fun to look back on. Trust me.


BUT ... NOTHING IS WORKING!

Let's say you've done all of the tips mentioned and this novel is still not grabbing your heart.

I just had this happen to me and my biggest tip is to step back and pray it over. I firmly believe God wanted me to stop that novel, no matter how much I wanted to do it, and have me write other things in this season of life. So if all else fails... don't feel like you're a failure. Take a step back. Breathe. And reassess. If the story isn't speaking to you, there's nothing wrong with you, or even the story, it just might not be the time to write it. Or has it grabbed you and you just don't want to hear it out? In that case, maybe buckle down and keep going. YOU are the only one who can decide!

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Thanks so much for having me, Lisa, and I sincerely hope this post helps someone.

God bless,
Angela R. Watts

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Angela R. Watts is a Christian fiction author who strives to glorify the Lord in all she does. She’s a homeschooled highschooler living at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she tends to travel. She’s been writing stories since she was little, but also enjoys chores, painting, and watching sunsets.




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have you ever struggled with draft one? what helped you finish?

Guest Posts

five ways to keep a journal [guest post by brooke]

October 07, 2019

today we have a quest post from brooke on one of my favorite topics ever - keeping a journal!!

  


What’s up, everyone! It’s me, everyone’s favorite potato from Chasing Dragonflies.

But wait. This is Inkwell, only one of the MOST AESTHETIC blogs on the blogosphere!

YES IT IS! I’m taking over Lisa’s blog. I’m not holding her against her will, don’t worry. 

Today, I thought I would talk about how to keep a journal. I really like journaling, but I CANNOT journal under normal circumstances.

You know those really aesthetic people that sit down and create bullet journals or they take time to sit down and talk about their day, or document life happenings everyday… yeah, I can’t do that. It doesn’t keep my interest so I end up giving up before the journaling habit really takes off. 

There’s nothing wrong with those people, by the way. I admire their dedication to journaling. But, maybe you’re like me and you can’t journal that way. 

Today is a good day for you! I’m going to talk about some other things you can do to start a journaling habit. 

#1: Write about one event in the day

Think of one single event of your day that sticks out to you. Write about it. It doesn’t have to be super detailed, (unless you want it to be <wink emoji here>) but it should only be an event you want to document. Maybe you saved up the money you wanted, or you bought that item you were saving up for, or maybe you got that raise at your job. (Wow, I’m such an adult.)

Write it down. Document it. 

#2: Keep a fiction journal

Okay, so I do this myself and it’s AMAZING. I keep all my W.I.P ideas, snippets, and anything pertaining to fiction in one journal. A snippet could float into my head, or a plot bunny might be dragging me down, so I write it all out in a fiction journal that I can flip through later when in need of inspiration. 

In this journal, you can write basic ideas, heck outline that W.I.P if you want. (or start a separate journal for that. BONUS)
With a fiction journal, you are the author. You decide the story.



#3: Rant it out

I do this, too. My job is stressful and I don’t always get along with certain people. So I rant it out in my catch-all diary. I write what frustrates me, some good things about my day, and I even summarize my day. I rant about what made me mad, how I’m justified, then realize I’m not really justified and go on lecturing myself. It’s a great process. <eyeroll emoji here>

It’s good to vent into the journal, though, leaving all frustration on the pages. 

#4: Quotes, lyrics, random thoughts, oh my!

I have a small pocket notebook that I write random song lyrics in my head, quotes from books I’m reading, Bible verses, or other random things. If a W.I.P idea comes to my head, I’ll jot out the rough ideas and fix them later in my fiction journal. Basically, this is my catch-all journal for all random thoughts and ideas. And quotes. And lyrics. It’s also super aesthetic. 

It helps me to remember ideas I’ve had, later on, keep track of quotes I love from books, and sometimes, I get lyrics from songs in my head and they need to be written in the most aesthetic way possible. So that’s what I do. 

#5: Bible Journaling

The way I Bible Journal is very different from other people, but I’m not going to go into extreme detail about that today. (If you’d like a post like that on my blog, Chasing Dragonflies, comment below and let me know!)

I have a composition book/notebook that has a pretty flower design on the front. It’s also scratch and sniff, which is epic. I write all the Bible verses, all my prayers, thoughts about a verse, Bible Study information, and more in that journal. A lot of people like to get journaling Bibles, but there’s really no need. You just need a notebook, a Bible, Bible safe highlighters, and a pen or pencil.

I also write down prayer requests in this journal so I remember to pray for whoever needs it. 

It’s been a while since I’ve actually done this, but I’m getting back into it and I love it. It’s a great way to draw closer to God and my faith. 



In Conclusion:

There are so many options when it comes to keeping a journal. You don’t have to do it the traditional way. There are so many options, so many ideas just waiting to be written down. Journaling can help you deal with anger, keep track of all the fictional worlds inside your head, and so much more.

But remember, you aren’t journaling for anyone but yourself. Let it be the thing you write for yourself, to your future self. One day, you can look back at it and cherish the memories, see how far you’ve come, maybe even compare what was going on then to what’s happening in your life now. 

Do You Keep a Journal?
What do you journal about?
Or do you want to start a journal?
Let’s talk in the comments!

© Lisa Elis 2017-2019. All text mine unless otherwise credited. Please do not steal. Thank you.