The Top Ten Reasons Why Your First Draft Isn’t Complete

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.” ~Shannon Hale.

“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.” ~Will Shetterly

“Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. ~Nicholas Sparks

Below, I delve into the meat and potatoes of the top ten most common mistakes that result in a first draft of a story never being completed. However . . . I have a promise to keep, first!

In a previous post, I said that I would talk a little more about my Writing Imagination Academy course. I’m going to begin by making a shocking statement: Over 50% of the novels in your local library should not exist. Have you ever picked up a book, began reading it, and promptly set it down to never return to it? Or have you ever enjoyed a story the first read-through to find that afterward you were exhausted? You don’t want to go back to it because since you know everything that happened, it can no longer keep you at the edge of your seat.

Both of these sorts of stories are examples of poor storytelling. There are so many stories being told today that give dismal views of life, takes away a reader’s imagination, have poorly described places, and altogether shouldn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong! I think there are a lot of good stories as well. Personally, I usually like stories that have stood the test of time, though there are some good treasures being written today. The trick is in finding them.

In Writing Imagination Academy, I show what an imaginative, inspirational, and wholesome story is and how to write one. It starts by understanding what inspired you to write your story and continues by describing how your imagination should flow onto the page so your story exceeds your own expectations! You’re driving and I’m navigating. Tell me where you want to go, and I’ll help you! Go to my home page to find when my next class is, and apply today!

And now, onto your first draft – after all, you’re probably saying right now, “But Joshua, I need help this minute with my writing!”

Here are the top ten mistakes people make with Draft One:

1. You began without preparation.

Before you begin writing your story, minimal preparation that should be done is: Research your story for accuracy (even if you’re creating a world yourself, you should be well aware of what other people are doing); Obtain reference images for your own inspiration; write about the images you have imagined; gain information like character names, places your story will take place in, and so on; and from your inspired and imagined images, create an outline.

2. You haven’t made writing a habit.

In order for your first draft to be written, you need to make writing a daily habit in your life. If you don’t, then you are not a writer but a dabbler.

3. Fear.

You’re too afraid of how your book will be received. For your first draft, it’s best to not think about such things at all. Think of it this way: Your writing is just you and your writing instrument.

4. Editing.

Something I learned years ago, if you want to get through a first draft, don’t edit!!! Write all the way through, and then you can go back and edit. That’s what drafts two and three are for.

5. Discouragement.

You become discouraged when you don’t see your book living up to your expectations. Don’t worry! Rarely, if at all, will a first draft live up to one’s expectations. Remember the quotes at the top of this email. The first draft is a stepping stone.

6. You’re writing too slow.

The longer a first draft drags out, the less chance you have of ever completing it. Why? Because we all have busy lives! Things come up, and soon, it can be easy to shelve your book project. Don’t do this! Write your first draft quickly.

7. Distractions.

Distractions are easy when you have picked the wrong writing environment. Try writing in a different sort of environment and see what happens.

8. Not knowing where to begin.

It is hard to begin some days. You sit down with your writing instrument in hand and don’t know how to get moving. At such a stall, go back to some of the material you collected before you began writing Draft One and look it over. Remember all your inspiration, and try to write about that on your page. After all, that’s supposed to be your story.

9. Having a dis-joint plot.

Sometimes, after writing for a while, you can realize the plot-line you came up with wasn’t the best and should have been tweaked in your outline stage. If this happens, don’t panic. Tweak the plot, but don’t go back to make everything match. Finish the draft. Then you can go back and revise.

10. Not enough words.

Vocabulary is something that can occasionally run dry. You find yourself repeating the same words. Sometimes, this is okay, but make sure that every scene is unique. Even if you mention the word “sunshine” in every chapter twenty times, talk about it in different ways: It’s spilling through limbs and boughs, shooting across the field, rising in the morning, gleaming through the window, beaming behind the mountain.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

P.S. In my Writing Imagination Academy course, you will receive five modules full of videos with invaluable information that can aid you in your writing. I plan to delve more into this course in subsequent posts. Want to know more now? Sign up to my email list and find out (button below)!

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