How to Write Your First Draft


Have you ever read a book and felt like, “Damn! This was penned by a god!”

There are a million books and more out there that have made it to the most famous bookshelves and have been recognized as “Best Sellers”. For many of these books, we often think that their authors are super-humans and their pens (or, laptops) are magic wands.

Personally, I like to think that the authors of those books are gods, with a special kind of anointing. But, the truth is that, they are humans like you and I. What stands them out is their ability to implement some very simple but important techniques.

Every great author you know and admire, were once amateur writers and every best-selling book you have come across was once an ugly draft. If that is true (which is), how did it come to be? How did an ugly draft become a great book?

In an article I read, the author affirmed that, “Writing is a labour of love but that doesn’t make it less of a labour.” What does this imply?

Many times, we get an amazing book idea and just the way a lover girl feels when she reads a letter from her distance lover; there is usually an adrenaline rush when the brilliant idea crosses her mind.

Hence, the next thing we want to do is put pen to paper or fingers to keypads, and put that idea in black and white. As soon as you begin to write, you could realize that the single idea you had is a mother to other great storylines and concepts.

“I am writing an amazing book!” You would think to yourself until you get blocked or in the long run, your draft ends up on your shelf- Another best-seller book aborted! Like an expectant mother who miscarries her baby, the pain builds a room in your heart.

I know that you can relate to this because it is an experience many of us have had. Just like you, many great authors had scribbled words, paragraphs, and even pages; that ended up in the garbage. So, if you have a trash can filled with rough sheets of your drafts, you are not alone.

But, what can you do to level up to the league of writers who have succeeded in making their ugly first drafts, amazing books? How do you ensure that great book which only lives in your imagination is brought to reality?

…the first step to publishing your first draft is properly outlining before writing.

PREPARE A GOOD OUTLINE

Before setting out on a journey, preparation is important.

The bitter pill to swallow is that you cannot publish that ugly first draft just the way it is. Most times, the first draft is the result of several thoughts roughly expressed. Because of the excitement with which you are writing, you most likely evade important aspects of the piece you are writing. Or, your thoughts are not just in agreement, since there are several of them in different parts of the sheet.

Hence, the first step to publishing your first draft is properly outlining before writing. Outlining does not only ensure you effectively exhaust your ideas and properly tell your story, it also saves time (and, maybe energy).

A good outline, if well mapped out could serve the dual purpose of being a guide and a draft. How do I mean?

When preparing your outline, you are able to visualize your book by expressing them without strings. If you are like me who loves diagrams, your outline could be a diagrammatic representation of the story you want to tell or the idea you want of put across to the general public.

Thus, your outline is a summary or sketch of the proposed draft.

On the other hand, a good outline is very instrumental as a guide. While writing, you would discover that as you write, your mind broadens and many more concepts come to you.

Initially, you might have thought to kill a character, but as you progress in writing, you might realize that keeping the character alive would tell a better story. Or, if you are doing an academic writing, in the course of researching, you might hit on an important concept that would make help you achieve a better piece.

So, what a good outline does is help you stay on track. It helps you ensure you are not writing off point and derailing from the major reason you started writing.

A good outline helps you answer important questions like:

  • What are you writing?
  • What facts do you need?
  • What is the plot of the story?
  • What is the theme of the article?
  • What question is your article answering?
  • For whom are you writing?

If you are able to properly answer these questions and more, you are few meters away from publishing your first draft.

WRITE

“You cannot edit a blank page.”

There are a thousand potential authors who are yet to birth brilliant books because they are scared of writing jargons. The challenge many of us are faced with is that, we all want to get it right at first trial, but life doesn’t work that way.

More so, as a writer, the only way you could be a great writer is by first writing. So, discard that thought of trying to write a perfect piece the first time.

No one has ever written a perfect piece the first time (asides poets who love to bear their emotions in their writing, still, they let their pieces go through some fire before they can be presented to the reading audience).

So, allow yourself write the way you want to write. Allow yourself make the mistakes. Moreover, you have an outline to guide you while writing.

The words of Maya Angelou comes to mind here, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Save yourself the pain by letting yourself tell that story and share that beautiful thought of yours.

No one has ever written a perfect piece the first time

EDIT AND PROOFREAD

Writing is like finding gold in its raw form. The process of editing is like mining the gold to beauty.

After writing your first draft, you cannot afford to publish it in its raw form. There is a need to take your writing through fire, taking out excesses and avoiding verbosities.

A good piece of writing is one void of grammatical and typographical errors. While writing, you could have made one or hundreds of grammatical errors and that automatically disqualifies your book as a best seller. No one wants to read a book filled with so much errors. Hence, to bring your book closer to the award, edit your work carefully.

Now, the funny thing about editing your work yourself is that, you involuntarily overlook mistakes and errors. An African adage loosely translated goes thus, “A man cannot see the back of his own head.”

This means you cannot tell your own imperfections and this applies to writing. Therefore, you would need to take your eyes through the eyes of others. Hire an editor to look through for you.

Now, the phrase ‘look through’ does not mean the editor won’t have to sit back to take your work through the flames of thorough editing. Chunks of pages could be cut out if the editor finds them unsuitable.

So, get your mind ready for some pruning. A good editor would not only help you get the best work out there, he or she will also assist in helping you become a better writer.

You could find an editor and a proofreader in one person or as different people; the most important is that you get other people who are well skilled to bring the Midas touch to your piece (that’s what heart2world publishing does, so don’t look too far away).

Also, with the help of technology, there are several system software and applications that could come in handy while writing and editing. Grammarly, Hemingway, WhiteSmoke, and several others are great writing assistants.

HIRE A GOOD PUBLISHER

Publishing your book and ensuring the right audience gets to read it, is as important as writing the book.

There is no point going through the pain of writing, if all you want is for your book to lie on your study table. Publishing your book or a piece brings you to the limelight as an expert in your field. You need a publisher that cares about you and your work.

A great publishing firm helps you in getting the best publishing medium by proffering expertise and professional advice. A good publisher knows how to package your book in an endearing taste and style.

More so, if you are out to make some money off your book, you can NEVER overrule the place of a good publishing firm. They have the best marketing strategies and would assist in bring some money to your pockets.

Either for charity purposed or as a money-making venture, you need all the help to get your books on the famous shelves. Whichever style of publishing you are adopting, either self-publishing or traditional publishing, ensure you get the best hands on deck.

“I only write when I am inspired, so I see to it that I am inspired every morning at nine o’ clock.”

Peter De Vries

STAY CONSISTENT AND INSPIRED

Writing is a journey and it won’t be out of place to say it is for the strong-hearted. Several times you could experience a writer’s block or a general lack of interest in writing. It is very normal but you must understand the reason you started writing in the first place.

Many writers wait till they are inspired before writing, at the close of the day, that inspiration never comes; as a result, no writing would be made.

Peter De Vries wrote, “I only write when I am inspired, so I see to it that I am inspired every morning at nine o’ clock.” That statement expresses Peter’s admission to writing only when he is pumped to do so and it also shows how determined he is to write. As a result, even if he has to induce the inspiration, he knows he needs to write.

To present your great book to the world, you must be ready to commit yourself to the birth process by being consistent and determined.

Some experts advise that you write daily, others say write as often as you get. But, I would advise you make a timetable and schedule your writing-time. Add it to your to-do list and if need be, get someone you are accountable to.

Remember the words of Amy Tan, “Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.”

1 thought on “How to Write Your First Draft”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *