How long should it take you to write your first draft?
I know some people who have spent years on their book’s draft and they’re still not close to being done.
Listen, if you’re writing 500 words a day and you have a 100,000 word book then it should still only take you about 7 months (and that’s giving you a few days off to do nothing on your manuscript). You can wiggle around with the math and figure out your writing goals based on time and word count, the point is that it shouldn’t take you years to finish a first draft.
There are dangers that you’ll face when you take too long to write your draft. So let’s take a look at the most common sticking points and what stops writers in their tracks.
- Don’t Believe That Your First Draft Is Your Final Draft
I hear from so many people that they want their book to be perfect. This is a surefire path to disaster. Nothing is perfect and writing is hard. Let it go. Let your first draft be crappy, let it be whatever it’s going to be. Write your first draft because you love your characters and you love your story. You can then embrace this concept of perfection as you work to revise your first draft.
- Don’t Let Dead Ends Hold You Back.
As you write your story you’ll inevitably come to places where your characters stop cooperating, your storyline hits a dead end, or you just don’t know what should happen next. It’s part of being a writer. Don’t stop writing until you figure it out.
Books don’t have to be written in a linear fashion. If you get to a sticking point, work around it. Skip it and move onto what you do know is going to happen. Eventually, you’ll have clarity or inspiration and you’ll be able to return to that section and finish it.
- Don’t Believe That Your First Draft Means Everything.
You book is important to you, I know that. Each story that I’ve written becomes part of my life. I have hopes, dreams, and goals attached to the book. Here’s the thing though, if you take your book too seriously, it can become paralyzing.
It means something for sure, but it doesn’t define you. If your book succeeds or fails, it really has no reflection on who you are as a person. Write your book. Enjoy the process and learn from each story that you create and ultimately that you publish.
Finish your first draft!
That’s your only goal right now. Don’t make it a bigger, or smaller, deal than it really is.
You’re a writer.