First Drafts Lie! | NaNoWriMo Pep Talk


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The video contains captions for anyone who needs them, but I’ve also included a detailed transcript below. Feel free to watch the video, read the post, or both, it’s (almost exactly) the same information either way. Thanks for visiting! 

NaNoWriMo is almost here.

If you’ve never heard of NaNo before, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month, a yearly event every November where writers from ALL around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month.

It’s fun, it’s terrifying, it requires a lot of snacks.

I’m still not sure if I’m participating this year, but my Author YouTuber group is considering hosting some writing sprints and themed videos so subscribe and follow me on my social media to see what we share.

Also, you might want to join my newsletter. My November email will feature my favorite writing tips in celebration of the start of NaNo!

Even though I’ve been writing for almost ten years now, NaNo still scares me a little.

Mainly because first drafts and I don’t really get along. I’ve talked before about how much I hate writing beginnings, and that’s pretty much all a first draft is. One giant beginning.

The problem is: first drafts lie.

When you write a first draft, you take a beautiful idea and you pull at it bit by bit.

Okay, it’s not perfect, but it sort of resembles what you intended and you can polish it up in revision, but wait—what’s going on? Did you just climb into a burning car? What’s that in your hand? They did what? *continued terror spiral*

All those questions would lead you to think I go into my novels blind, a pantser with no plot, but I don’t. I heavily outline.

I do like being surprised. The issue is, when writing a first draft, everything is a surprise.

You’ll find that your character might be a completely different person than you envisioned. You might find that the path you were aiming for just isn’t possible in the story. You will likely find that your story has a mind of it’s own and you aren’t always on the same page. Literally.

There is room for magic in a first draft.

When starting my latest, I did discover my main character was different than I expected, but she turned out to be stronger, more determined than I’d thought. She’s very confident in her abilities to succeed and I was happy to let her take the lead when appropriate. She knows her story better than I do.

But not all surprises are fun.

I got a fourth into my first, first draft before realizing my pacing was completely off.

A hard reality to face when you’re a perfectionist is accepting faults. Especially in an intense event like NaNo, it can be very easy to second guess yourself.

You’ll notice a lot of faults in your book as you write, but the most important thing is to keep moving forward.

If your pacing is too slow, speed it up from that point and move on. If you realize you should’ve added a character earlier in the story, write as if he’s already been established and move on. Likewise, if a character is not needed, drop him.

Every flaw can be fixed in revision. Say it with me. Every flaw can be fixed in revision.

You won’t get to revision if you don’t finish the book.

First drafts lie. They are nasty, deceitful little things.

But you’re a liar, too. That’s what published authors do, professionally lie for a living.

Be a better liar.

When your manuscript tries to trick you, manipulate it yourself. A first draft is needy. It doesn’t want you to move on. Don’t fall to temptation, the want to edit, edit, edit. Editing comes after.

Nitpicking a manuscript is attacking with a butter knife. Revision on a completed manuscript is a sword charging into battle.

Be nervous. Be afraid. Those feelings never go away no matter how practiced you are.

Don’t let fear keep you from succeeding.

What are your best drafting tips? Let me know below and subscribe for more videos on writing and books.

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