Writing the First Draft

Hey! I’m Robin and I’m new here at Random. I’m really excited to be here and I hope that we can learn a lot from one another.

The first draft: facing the blank page

Writing can be stressful, especially when working on that first draft. I always feel like the blank pages are staring back at me, as if they KNOW I can’t find the words to fill them. That doesn’t just effect my writing life. I’m more likely to be mean to my husband and buy way too many pairs of shoes. On a positive note, the dog goes for millions of walks, so at least someone is happy.

Tips and tricks

In some instances, a break from your manuscript is sufficient to get you writing. Playing a card game with a friend, exercising for 20 minutes or taking a short walk can be just what you need to loosen some ideas. If that doesn’t work, consider:

  • Working on a different part of the story
  • Organizing your notes
  • Working on something else (a blog post, a bucket list, an essay about a personal experience)
  • Discuss the problem with yourself in writing form

These suggestions might not help you through the problem, but they are words on the page and, sometimes, working on something unrelated can get you to process what’s going on in your novel and inspire you. If you don’t write something, that problem area will be back there tomorrow and the day after that and the week after that. You could even lose your passion for your story. When you’ve tried everything else and you still don’t “feel” it, you need to just do it.

Just do it. 

In my WIP, I really struggled with one of the chapters. My main character was meeting her uncle for the first time. I thought I knew how I wanted it to go down, but when I finally got to it, I did everything (and I do mean everything) to avoid actually writing that scene. The dog has never felt more loved. I made dessert every night. I visited the eye doctor and the dentist. I went canoeing. I finally had my “Trash the Dress” pictures taken. I did some much world building I have little pieces of paper representing the money sitting in my desk drawer.

None of that helped me write. When it came down to it, I just had to put words down on the paper. Realizing the computer was my nemesis, I pulled out a notebook, went to a coffee shop and wrote the chapter. I might not keep any of what I wrote. But I put something down. I got through the chapter. It’s in. The meeting happened. I don’t know if I like it. I was probably too wordy. I probably didn’t show enough emotion. The dialogue is probably stilted. But it’s a first draft, so that’s okay. I don’t have to use any of it. I might even end up liking some of it, which wouldn’t have happened if I’d let the blank page control me.

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  1. Hi Robin! Great ideas. I love the idea of writing to myself about the problem. This could be funny, too. Thanks for sharing the love here at Random! I’m so excited to have you in this writing toolshed sharing your writing experiences and teaching others the ins and outs of writing.

  2. Writing a first draft is like pulling teeth. Sometimes you just have to write blah, blah, blah and come back to it. lol

  3. Great thoughts! I thrive on the blank page…editing, blech….first draft….WOHOO!

  4. Robin says:

    P.T. – I completely agree with you. I love the editing process, that’s when I feel it really begins to take an actual shape.

  5. Robin says:

    Michelle – Thanks for your comments. It’s great that the blank page is your friend — and good luck editing!

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