She's So Write: Getting Through the First Draft

This is my first post here, and hopefully, not my last, so I better start out by being honest about who I truly am: I'm one of those writers who only writes on weeknights and weekends. This is the reality for so many of us as we lay down our pen-swords for five days a week to grudgingly fill our roles as somebody's bitch.

Under these perpetual time constraints, ninety percent of us would just give up on the quest to write a novel. For those of us still hanging by a thread (and not concerned with the premature aging that will result from lack of sleep), here are some tips for finishing a full-length draft:
1. Take a week's vacation to write the first draft. This will be difficult for those who are married and/or have children, as you probably want to use your vacation days on something more worthwhile, but for those of us women who teeter on the edge of independence and dying alone, this one's for you. Let me clarify that I'm not being sarcastic, because A: I actually wrote a draft in a week, and B: after the last heartbreak, I'm not sure if I'll ever love again. No biggie. But there I was with a week 's vacation and a goal of writing 10,000 words a day. The goal seemed unachievable, until I realized how angry I'd be if I'd used a week's vacation for nothing but eating and watching reality TV. And there's your biggest motivator: fear of self-loathing.
2. Assuming you can't get away for a week just to write a book, it can still be done, it can I tell you! Which brings me to the next tip: tell as many acquaintances as you can that you're writing a novel. This isn't a "the more people you tell the more accountable you are" type of tip. Oh no, it's more about the weird looks your peers will give you when you tell them you're a grown adult and you're writing a novel. "Why don't you just go on a hot air balloon ride and eat the cotton candy clouds?" they'll say (with their eyes, their patronizing eyes). The more people you have in your corner who are secretly wondering why your emotional maturity is stunted with a dream that should've stayed in adolescence, the more determined you'll become to prove them wrong. This will drive you to not only finish the draft, but to publish the book and find an audience that's uniquely yours. Spite, it's a beautiful thing.

3. This one is important: be a voyeur on writer message boards, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I am a participant in all of the aforementioned things, but when I'm trying to write a book, I quietly lurk with a sense of wonder as I watch others like me waste hours and hours sharing opinions when they should be writing. You are allowed to do this for twice a day for ten minutes before getting back to writing, and believe me you'll want to, as you watch others complain about not being able to write because the Internet's too seductive. I actually follow someone who said she had a book coming out in a few weeks. She said this two months ago. I am still waiting for the book. And so, while this seems harsh, it's a serious lesson: observe how quickly one can fly off the tracks, and be more determined in meeting your personal goals. You are also free to encourage those you observe who are having a difficult time. Because...I'm not heartless.

4. And now, the four food groups: chocolate, candy, ice cream, and caffeine. These foods are essential when you're writing, so GO NUTS! The only thing I try to avoid when I'm writing are fried foods because they put me to sleep, but otherwise, it's a calorie free-for-all when in draft mode. I allow this for myself since after writing two books, I've decided that it takes a lot out of me to go to "emotional places" when I write, and everything I take out of me when I write? I put back in via chocolate squares and Sour Patch Kids. So enjoy.

If you follow these tips, you'll have a finished draft in a matter of days or a matter of months, depending on your life situation. A huge sense of accomplishment will result, because even though the re-write can be a pain and the editing stages never-ending, nothing and no one can take away the fact that you invented a story straight from the rawness of your mind, and one day, you'll find readers who experience it and love it.

And there is nothing sarcastic about that.  :-)

Happy writing!

Romi Moondi is a Canadian independent author of The Book of Awful, NOT Love Poems for Real Life, Year of the Chick, and Year of the Chick: A Prequel. When Romi isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, running, baking, and observing strangers who she eventually writes about. For more information, you can visit Romi’s blog and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.