Stocking Stuffers for Writers: DRAFTING

*This is a repost from last year. Happy Holidays! :)
Jim the Photographer


Stocking Stuffers is a series for the busy writer/blogger this holiday season.

We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we'll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!




Today's Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad DRAFTING skillz:


1--Don't start until you have a road map. I can hear the pantsers screaming, but this applies to you too. If you are an outliner, outline. If you're a pantser, have a plan. Brainstorming means understanding the story you want to write. Know your characters, what their motivations are and most importantly, what your goal is for this novel. Make notes in a journal or doc. to reference--it will help you later if you get stuck. A road map means never facing the dreaded question: What should my character do now?

2--Drafting is not about quality, it's about storytelling. This isn't Hell's Kitchen, It's a first draft. All you need to do is transcribe the story in your head onto the page. Don't agonize over a turn of phrase, or how to convey the perfect description. Give yourself permission to use placeholders if needed (bland descriptions, cliched actions) to be reworked later during revisions. 


3--Create a mental shift. Drafting works best when you can shove everything else aside and just write. To do this, minimize distractions (put a movie on for the kids, unplug the phone, shut off your email) and create a productive writing environment. Choose a mental aid to train your brain that it's time to write: light a candle, for example, or draft the book in a color other than black. Whatever you choose, do this only when you draft and your brain will shift into gear faster.

4--Be consistent. Butt-in-chair, all the way. Make a contract with yourself to set aside so many hours per day or week to draft your book. If you struggle with procrastination, set up a reward system for specific word counts--something that has value to you. If you're brave, try Write or Die. If Twitter is your downfall, turn off the net or try a laptop somewhere without wi-fi.

5--Fight the urge to go backwards. This ties in with #2, but is oh-so-important. Too many writers get caught on the merry-go-round of fixing that their novel languishes forever, incomplete. Always write with the end in mind. If the plot takes an unexpected turn and therefore changes a storyline or event earlier on, don't go back and rewrite. Instead, make notes about the changes as a placeholder and then keep writing the current scene. This way you keep that creative flow and story pacing going. Come back and reinvent the earlier scene after you finish the book, when you have the time and focus needed to get it right.

15 comments:

Nicole said...

This is a wonderful and incredibly invaluable stocking stuffer! Thank you kindly and Merry Christmas1

Angela Brown said...

I can always use these kind of reminders. Especially the importance of getting the draft done. I tend to get caught in the Bermuda Triangle of trying to get the right wording during my first draft.

Marsha Sigman said...

This is great! I really needed this one especially on my current wip. Killin' me!

Holly L'Oiseau said...

I can't help but edit while I write, but I always finish on time! lol.

JeffO said...

Great post, Angela. As a winger (I just hate 'pantser'), I do see the wisdom of some kind of plan. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet.

zaelyna said...

Thanks for this stocking-stuffer, Ang! I'm sitting here fussing over the best way to tweak this chapter and keep getting distracted with all the details that still need to get expanded on in the previous chapters >.<

There's only so much one can focus on with each revision. It's important to keep your list in mind throughout the initial draft, but we should also note that an outline or plan is equally important for each subsequent revision.

I used to be of the belief that I had an incurable case of Writer's Block. After a brief session in a screenwriting workshop, that belief (and habit) quickly died.

As long as you have your story in mind--by whatever pre-writing methods suit you individually--you shouldn't have any major problems defeating a draft.

Cheers, and happy holidays!
~zae

Laura Marcella said...

Awesome stocking stuffer. :) I especially like #6. It's so important for me to just get the first draft down and done.

Merry Christmas!!

Ashley Prince said...

This is wonderful! Oh my gosh, I can't begin to describe how wonderful this is.

Thank you for such a great post. :)

Diane Fordham said...

Ho Ho Ho - again fantastic advice. Thank you! Merry Xmas to all :-)

Jessie said...

Getting ready to start a new writing project, and this definitely helped me figure out where I need to start first. Thanks for the help!

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm bookmarking this post. I'm planning to go back into drafting in early 2012, so I'll have to refer to these tips!

Traci Kenworth said...

Great advice!!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Great tips! I finished my drafting my first book this year, after working on it for two years. I know the next book will go a lot faster because I've since learned that I need a detailed outline ahead of time, and I need to always write forward no matter what.

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks everyone! I hope you all have the best holiday ever! Enjoy your family and friends, and get some reading and relaxing in. It's been a long year and you deserve a much-needed break! :)

primadonna20 said...

Just what I needed...thank you! I knew this, but affirmation is a great motivator. :)

Cheers!
Maren

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