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Writing A Fast First Draft

By Sophfronia Scott

When my work is going too slowly I know exactly what the problem is: my internal editor is switched “on”, and I’m trying to write too perfectly. In other words, I’m editing as I write. Once I switch that baby off, though, I’m flying. It’s a good trick for you to learn as well because writing a fast first draft may be the key to finishing your book! Here’s why:

Rewriting is Easier Than Writing

When you’re working on a revision, you have real stuff to contend with: there are words on the paper or on the computer screen. Often our biggest obstacle is that blank screen. To get past it you must write quickly and put anything down, even if it’s all the wrong stuff. When you finally do go back to edit, reading will spur you to further action because you’ll immediately ask yourself, “How can I make this better?”

Your Book: a Reality

When your first draft is done, suddenly your book is real. It’s no longer an abstract idea in your head. You now have something to offer, even if you wouldn’t show it to anyone just yet. It’s something you can look to with confidence. If you happen to meet an agent or an editor, for instance, you can say without hemming or hawing: “I’m working on a book and I have something I can show. It’s in the rough stages, but I can polish it up and send you the first three chapters if you’re interested.” And you can do that. You don’t have to go into panic mode because you haven’t written a thing.

Banishing Fear

In the course of writing a fast first draft, you will learn not to be afraid of words. Your command over words will naturally increase and the more you learn about the words, the more you learn about writing. In fact, you’re learning how to work. You know you can just throw words onto a page and see if they will stick. This will also make it easier for you, when you begin the editing process, to trash pages of work if you have to. Writers are usually hesitant to cut the words they’ve struggled so hard to create. But you won’t have this difficulty because you’ll know: you wrote these words once–you can write more!

How Fast is Fast?

The speed with which you finish your first draft will depend on you. Some people can pound out a draft in a month and for others that’s just not possible. Maybe you can do a few pages a day, shooting to complete a draft in six months. The idea is to move along, writing as fast as you can, but it’s more important to be in the flow. You want to feel as though you are a storyteller or you’re giving a presentation and you are pouring your words out to an audience sitting right in front of you. Pretend you’re on a bicycle: to stay upright, you must continually pedal and stay in motion. Do this and you will ride the flow all the way to your book’s completion.

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