Done is better than perfect. Just finish the thing. You can’t edit a blank page.
All great advice for writers when they’re in the middle of the first draft slog. Keep going.
But what happens when the words literally won’t come? When the muse won’t show up?
Common advice for when you’ve got writer’s block (which my friend Jackie Dana has always maintained does not exist) is to write something outrageous to break up the monotony and get your juices flowing.
Kill a character.
Someone start a fight.
Have them do something opposite to what they would normally do.
Make them all vampires.
That last tip is mine. I know from personal experience and three wins for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that it is an effective strategy to finish … a terrible first draft.
Anne Lamott affectionately calls them “shitty first drafts”, which I much prefer. Everyone’s first draft is awful—and it should be. It’s the first time you’re telling yourself the story. There’s no nuance or snappy dialog. It’s just you herding kittens to get the worst version of the thing somewhere you can hate it and then move on to making it something you hate less.
From the publishing and marketing perspectives, you’ll start with shitty first drafts too. You’ll upload the wrong cover to KDP. Your Facebook ads will be expensive and you won’t know if you’re selling books because of them. Your website will be ugly.
You’ll decide to quit 457,878,227 times a month, if you’re like most of us.
Every mistake is a lesson. An iteration. A chance to pivot.
You’ll get better. You will. There’s science that proves it, but you can just trust me on this. If you keep going and learn from every experiment, whether it’s writing better dialog, or finding better keywords, or creating a checklist that keeps track of the right cover to upload, you’ll start to see success.
This month’s issue is all about these first drafts and how to finish. You’ll find a wealth of tried and true tips and resources to help you, and I highly recommend these strategies over my NaNoWriMo one.
Unless you write vampires.