Wednesday, April 26, 2017

6 Reasons You Can't Finish Your First Draft




When you plan to do something, the toughest step is to start off. It's scary, I know. But, once you dare to take that first step, everything seems to fall into place.

In writing, finishing your first draft is that first, crucial step. But, it's difficult, completing the first draft. After my first book, We Will Meet Again, I am struggling to write the first draft of my second book.

Reasons? Many. Here, from my own experience, I am pointing out some.

You don't have a story

In a sense, everyone can be a storyteller. But, having vague ideas and having a clear plot are two different things. If you want to write a novel, be clear about the story. Creating chapter outline helps you to progress. Make a rough route of the story. And, in my opinion, you should know the end of your story because if you don't know the destination of your journey (story), you may find yourself wandering.

You are over-thinking

It's true that you should be clear about the plot and the ending, but a novel is not just about a story and ending. Execution of your story makes a lot of difference. How do you want to take your story forward in an interesting way. Creating interesting incidents and dialogues - BUT, you don't need to know all of these when you take a start. Sometimes, your story, characters take the command and you just go with the flow. Sometimes, you get inspired by some real-life incidents or observation. You can add these things later.

In my novel, there are several things/incidents/even characters that I added after finishing my (messy) first draft. So, relax. Don't think you can have the entire story graph in your mind. Research is important but not in the first drat. You need to collect (and save) your thoughts and ideas first - this is the gist of writing first drafts. Stop over-thinking and start writing.

You are waiting for the right time

You may call it procrastination, and this is the biggest hurdle on the path of your writing journey.


There's no right time or every time is the right time if you think like that. I have wasted a lot of time after my first book. It amazes me when I see some writers working on several manuscripts.  But, admiring other writers won't help you until you take inspiration and start writing. 

You don't have to write x thousand words daily. Keep your goal small. It's okay if you write 200-300 words. Just make sure that your story makes progress everyday if you are working on a manuscript.

You seek perfection in your first draft

Attaining perfection is a myth. You will always find some faults in your manuscript. And, you will always someone better than you.

It's perfectly normal if you think your first draft is bad. Thinking that it's really good is highly delusional. Yes, First drafts are supposed to be messy. There is a term called 'Editing' and this term has a serious meaning. :)

Your first draft is not your final craft. You will get many chances to make corrections - you will have to revise and edit your manuscript - several rounds. Trust me. Editing is basically re-writing. So, don't seek perfection. Write your story first. Then, edit. If you can't resist editing while writing your first draft, your craft will go nowhere or even if it goes, it will move at a snail's pace. Want that?

You can't manage your time

Time management is all about your lifestyle. If you can't manage your time in 24 hours, you won't be able to manage if you got 48 hours in a day.

There's only rule that works - your own rule. Try and see what works for you. Early morning schedule or late night schedule. Avoid watching television (However, watching good movies is good for your writing.You can read about some good films I watched recently). Try to finish your chores on time. Try to fix a schedule. It helps.

You can't detach yourself from internet

This is the greatest distraction. I know it's tough as internet is addictive but controlling your online availability can be fruitful for your writing. We are writers because of our writing, not our online presence. Internet is useful but when you are writing, stay away from social media.

What works?

As Namrata (author of Metro Diaries 1 & 2 and many other anthologies) suggests, transcription (recording your thoughts/scenes/ideas when you feel lazy or doing something else, and ideas flash) works. Have you ever tried this?

Find a writing partner. Set a daily writing challenge (it's okay if it's 300-400 words) and share your word count and try to beat each other. This healthy competition is very motivating and actually works! Trust me.



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5 Comments:

rudraprayaga said...

All these tips are really useful.As you said 'you are someone better than you' I too feel after reading the post I could have done better.

Alok singhal said...

Practical hindrances. Internet/social media is the biggest one, I guess.

If there is a lack of ideas, I suggest taking a break (maybe a small vacation) and starting afresh.

Tarang Sinha said...

@ Rudraprayaga: Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading. :)

@ Alok: Internet, oh yes! Taking a break is a good idea. Thanks for reading. :)

Gayu said...

'Perfection' that's the one thing that stopped me from getting the draft of my memoir, but this year I'm determined to get over the habit of over thinking and perfection.

Hopefully i'll succeed :)

Tarang Sinha said...

Oh don't bother about the quality in your first draft. Guess what? Nobody is going to read that. It's just for you. I have learnt finally.

Oh yes. You will. :)

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