5 Steps to Finally Finishing Your Novel's First Draft

by Sarah Gray about a year ago in how to

Writing a novel can seem like a never-ending task! Here are some tips to help you get it done.

5 Steps to Finally Finishing Your Novel's First Draft

I have told myself since I was young that once day I would become an author of a book. I dreamed about the stories I would tell and the endless possibilities for writing. Throughout the years I have started novels on those rainy days when there is nothing to do. However, I would rarely come back to them. Life would always get in the way and soon I would lose interest. Despite this, my dream of being an author has been something that has never changed. I always come back to it as the only thing I could ever truly see myself doing. It is true, writing isn't always the easiest industry to break into. I eventually told myself that unless I actually complete writing pieces, I am never going to actually be a writer. Some time ago, I got inspiration for a novel and I knew that if I was going to become a writer, this would be the story I wanted to tell first. Recently after much self discipline, I was able to finally complete my first draft. Through the journey of writing a novel, I definitely learned some lessons along the way. Below are five things I learned when writing the first draft of my novel. If you are starting out this journey yourself, I hope what I learned will be helpful to you.

1. Just write!

Sometimes procrastination can be a huge part of the writing process. Often you just are not in the mood that day or don't feel that same spark of inspiration. Maybe you even just had a busy day! Whether it is a lot or a little, writing something as often as possible is always helpful. I found that the days where I didn't necessarily have the inspiration to write, but I sat down with my novel anyways, turned out to be some of my most productive days. If your story excites you, it doesn't take long for your imagination to start to take over again when you revisit it. Every little bit of writing gets you closer to your goal.

2. Recognize it's only your first draft.

The mistake I kept making while writing was expecting everything to come out perfectly the first time. Sometimes I would be writing a scene and think about how I should change a character or a plot point. I would get stressed out over the thought that I would have to change everything I had written so far. Take a deep breath. To get a novel out on paper from start to finish is a big accomplishment! You have the opportunity to tweak things later. Don't be discouraged if you don't like a certain line you wrote right away. Over thinking your every word on the first draft will just delay your progress.

3. Trust those moments of inspiration.

When I first started writing my novel, I thought I had the whole thing planned out and knew exactly what would happen. However, when I had those good days where my imagination ran wild, I often thought of amazing new plot points on the spot. Sometimes I didn't even know what was going to happen until I actually wrote it down! Trust these moments. Again, it's your first draft and you can always go back later and make sure everything fits together and makes sense in your story.

4. Listen to music that inspires you.

One of the most helpful tools I used to keep myself in the mood for writing was listening to music. I personally find music with lyrics to be too distracting while writing, so I prefer to use classical music or movie scores. If I was writing an emotional scene I would listen to emotional music. If something was happy, I would listen to happy music. This was often when I would do my best thinking and obtain the most inspiration for my visual descriptions.

5. Try to erase self doubt.

I found one of the hardest head spaces to get out of while writing my first draft was the constant self doubt. When you know people could be reading your work in the future, it's often hard not to think about what people may think about a particular scene or to be over critical of your own work. I would often think, is this really suspenseful? Is this boring? Is this well written? Try to silence those thoughts as best you can and just write what is in your heart. Other people's opinions are out of our control. Just keep writing. If you love it, others are bound to love it too!

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Sarah Gray

Aspiring writer, working on my first novel. Living in Toronto. 

See all posts by Sarah Gray