one of my favorite people on the planet, Kendall Grey!
Fasten your seatbelt and prepare to be amazed as you learn Kendall's tips on how to dig in and hammer out that beastly first draft!
My first experience with drafting a book was pure heaven. I had no inhibitions, no worries, no clue what I was doing. I didn’t get hung up or stressed about making the book perfect. I focused on getting the words out. When I finished, choirs of angels sang. Rainbows beamed from my head. Disco balls twirled.
Then other people read the book.
And hated it.
Apparently, the beautiful baby I created wasn’t nearly as beautiful as I thought. I locked myself in self-torture chamber of humiliation and shame. After a few weeks of self-loathing passed, I emerged from my hidey-hole, tail between my legs, and humbly sought advice from other writers who told me to pull up my big-girl panties and deal with it. Writers must accept things they don’t want to hear. Like, “Your baby is butt-ass ugly and needs a major facelift.”
Eventually, I grew enough courage to seek out a critique partner, who helped me tremendously. Over the course of thirteen rewrites (not revisions, REWRITES) spanning four years, the story improved. I self-published INHALE in May 2012.
But when it came time to draft the second book in the series, doubt paralyzed me. What if this baby was even uglier than the first? What if I had to rewrite the book thirteen times again? I didn’t think I’d survive another ripping. I considered quitting before I even started.
I scrounged more courage and drew on my experiences with writing the first draft of INHALE. Instead of worrying about writing a book that would please everyone else, I wrote the book for me. I wrote it as if no one else would ever see it. The change in focus gave me the freedom I needed to push the limits and let my imagination go crazy, just like I did the first time around.
And guess what? The second book was better. Yeah, it was still ugly and required a lot of make-up before it made its first public appearance, but this one needed less work. Reviews for the second book are better than the first, too. I must’ve done something right.
My advice for surviving a first draft is:
- Write for yourself first. If you don’t enjoy your story, it’ll show, and readers won’t enjoy it either.
- Practice patient persistence. The more you write, the better you write.
- Accept the fact that when you’re done drafting, you’ll have a lot more work to do. Drafting is the easy part, so enjoy it while you can. Revising takes twice as much time and concentration. Don’t like revising? Tough.
- Trust your critique partners—they have your back. Don’t fuss over little things like word choice and grammar in a first draft because your story is likely to change in the revision stage anyway. Crit partners will help you fix the big issues first. Worry about the details later.
- Keep your blinders in place. Don’t get distracted by Ms. Prissy Pants Author’s glowing reviews, rankings, and sales. You’re not her. Focus on your work. She’s irrelevant.
Hard work pays off. You might not see the fruits of your labors right away, but if you keep at it, your writing will improve, and so will your chances of selling a lot of books down the road. :-)