The Learning Curve of the First Draft

Terry Pratchett always said “the first draft is just you telling yourself the story”.

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot recently, especially as I’ve just reached the end of my first draft, and I’ve been comparing how I thought it was going to be vs how it’s actually been.

I thought that writing this novel would be exactly the same as writing everything else. Boy was I mistaken!

Writing this novel has been so much more challenging and exciting than I could ever have imagined. I thought I had a rough idea of the story and the characters before I started, but now things have happened that I’d never considered and I’ve totally fallen in love with characters who randomly appeared. I’ve had at least two characters stroll into my head, unannounced, sit down and make themselves comfortable.

It’s made me realise just how much of this story I don’t know – which always seems to happen right as I get to an important part and I suddenly realise that I’m not sure what happens next.

I thought I’d just sit down with my very rough bullet point outline and my character notes and just get the whole thing down in about 3 months. Instead it’s been five-ish months, lots of pondering and questions and leaving chapters unfinished, because I can’t quite figure out the words, and going back to them later. It’s been a learning curve of what works for me and what doesn’t, and it’s definitely taught me some valuable lessons I can take with me into the future.

It has also made me realise that I could also do with a little more planning next time… although whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

First things first though, now I need to edit!

New Year, New Goals?

Happy New Year!

However you celebrated, I hope you had a good one. I spent it on the sofa, watching movies, eating food and then watching the London fireworks on TV – it was absolute bliss.

Today I’m not planning on doing much except enjoying my last day of holiday freedom… which means I really need to be doing some writing! I had planned on using my ten days off work to relax, recharge and get some much needed words in, but then I came down with a horrible bug on the 26th and spent three days in a haze of sleep. So no words for me.

As much as part of me wants to punish myself for not writing, I’ve realised that I really needed the break – especially because of how stressful the end of 2018 turned out to be, and now I feel a lot of more rested and ready to let the words flow.

So for January, and 2019 as a whole, I’ve reset my goals and adjusted them based on what I’ve learnt over the past few months. When I started on my current project, I was sure that 3 months would be plenty of time to turn out a 70-80K first draft. But I hadn’t counted on life stress, illness, fatigue and writer’s block. I’m still learning what works for me, and what doesn’t. So while 1,000 words a day is peanuts for some folk, for me it’s a realistic goal that some days will be easy and some days will be hard.

I’ve also learned to give myself days off – especially if I’m tired, because otherwise I stare at a flickering cursor for two hours and then wonder if throwing my laptop out the window will make me feel better.

It’s all about balance – like yesterday, when I wrote nearly 600 words and ate half a chocolate orange!

So, with all this in mind – I’m aiming for 15-20K this January. About 5,000 words a week. And I’ve written this goal in my new unicorn themed journal/planner/attempt-to-get-my-shit-together notebook so it’s official now.

As for other New Year Writing Goals?
Well I’m going to stick with a simple one: be kind to myself.
I’m terrible at comparing myself to other writers, or berating myself for not getting things done perfect first time, or writing fast enough. I need to remember to celebrate my achievements – like hitting the halfway point, or even starting at all, and take things in my stride.

Now, I just have to do it!

The First One

They always say beginnings are the hardest thing to write – and given that it’s taken me two days to write this, I’d say that it’s true.

So, without further ado…

Hi! I’m Charlie – I’m a romance author who writes gay erotic stories with a little angst, heaps of fluff, plenty of yummy sexy times and a happily ever after. So far, I’ve written mostly fanfiction (which is published on AO3) but I’m diving off the deep end and starting some original fiction of my own.

I’ll be trying to keep a blog about writing and my own exploits, plus bringing you news, updates and teasers from my upcoming work.

I’m so excited to get started! Now I’ve just got to finish the damn book…