Just finished writing the first draft of your book? Or thinking about writing one? Well, this post could help you avoid some awful disappointments and also give you some realistic hope. But, if you’re looking for someone to hold your hand and tell you that writing your book is gonna be a piece of cake, then I suggest you look elsewhere. Because after 1 book, 96,000 words, countless sleepless nights, and 396 days, my experience was not what you’re imagining it to be. 😉
Still, this is not something that I regret doing- writing my first book was both a beautiful journey of self-realisation and also a pretty hard one. So, here are my gems of wisdom for anyone frustrated over their draft or attempting to write one.
- It’s hard as hell.
Yep, you read that right. Anyone who has ever written anything longer than an essay knows this- you’re going to be stretched to breaking point about a thousand times every day. For instance, maybe you sit down to write about a girl fighting depression, but end up feeling everything she does yourself. And even though you might have uncontrollable mood swings in sync with your character’s state at the moment, that’s exactly how literary masterpieces are born- when you step into your character’s shoes and write from his/her perspective, that’s how you get readers to fall in love with your tale.RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Top 10 Pet Peeves in Fiction
- It’s not going to be perfect.
Perfect is a bit of an overstatement. Even if you’re like me and can’t help but edit your work at the end of each writing session, the first complete draft is far from what you imagined it would be- it’s chaotic, full of grammar mistakes, weird typos and storylines that taper out uselessly, but your book’s finished! That’s the important thing to keep in mind- you’ve done something few other people have actually done. Sure, I felt as though my draft belonged in a trash can more than a bookshelf right then, but that’s okay. It going to be a lot buffed and polished before it’s ready for publication. That’s yet another step in the writing process.RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Are You Really a Writer?
- You don’t have a way with words.
This is not true. Reading your draft, you’ll find crudely written passages and abysmal descriptions. But don’t take it to mean that you’re a bad writer. This is a really important point- at least two other writers I know abandoned their manuscript just because they thought it reflected that they couldn’t write at all. You should keep in mind that any writer just can’t be brilliant for 50K words straight. How good you are as a writer will be judged by the way you’re going to clean up the mess, not by how you wrote the draft that nobody is going to read straight off your laptop.
Do not abandon your book because you think it’s beyond repair. Amateurs quit- professionals don’t. And that’s the only thing you need to know.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: 15 Quotes that every Writer should know
- Research is the best part.
Indeed, for me, research was the best part- I liked it slightly more that I like writing. You see, research opens up new realms of pleasure- you have this image of what your characters, your setting, your scenes are going to look like. But they’re pleasantly blurry. As you carry out your research, these fuzzy images begin to take shape, and these tiny details is what makes your draft complete- they make your story real. And of course, research is definitely more palatable than writing. Who doesn’t like surfing the internet?
When I wrote my first draft of El Dorado, I loved browsing satellite pictures, real-time photographs, centuries-old records, etc. And not only did research help me make sure my story was factually correct when I needed it to be, but it also never failed to spark off some new ideas.RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: How to Choose the Perfect Setting For Your Book
- Nobody’s going to help you much.
And by that, I’m generally talking about family and friends. When I started writing last year, my closest friends laughed at the idea and never thought for a minute that I could actually go through with it. Being only 15, I had to deal with my studies as well as writing- and that ticked my parents off. Writing as a career? Humph, there’s no such thing in the world. A book, you say? Well, you ain’t JK Rowling, so you better pack up your keyboard and take out your math books.
Even though I found these remarks disturbing, I never said anything. ‘Cause, you know, the wisest are the quietest. Still, as I kept writing, I realised how lonely I was. It wasn’t teenage angst- really, nobody understood me. Nobody understood that writing was a job- a pretty difficult one, in fact. So, if you have someone who’s always by your side, it’s pretty good. But if you don’t, don’t worry- other writers out there are always ready to lend assistance and make friends.
All of that being said, my first draft was equal parts tears and equal parts sweat- but in the end, when I realised I had accomplished what I’d dreamt of doing for a decade, I was the happiest girl alive. When other kids were out getting drunk and probably driving illegally, I was making up a world- a world of my very own creation.
And in the end, that was all that mattered…