My Top 5 Tips For Finishing Your First Draft

Struggling to finish the first draft of your novel? Struggle no more! Learn how to conquer your first draft today by utilizing my top 5 tips!

Happy Friday, friends!

Today on Youtube, I'm kickstarting a brand new series called #FridayFive. Each week, I'll share a list of five random facts, tips, favorites, pet peeves, etc. related to writing or reading. I may do some get-to-know-me and/or Q&A #FridayFive's, as well!

I'm also currently trying to steer my channel toward a better balance of writing- and reading-related content since I've been pretty heavy on the reading videos lately.

My current plan is to crosspost any writing-related videos here on the blog with a recap or a transcript of the video, but if you want to check out my bookish videos too, make sure to head on over to my channel and subscribe!


Are you ready to finish your first draft?

You guessed it. In today's #FridayFive, I'm sharing my best advice with all of you folks who've been struggling to finish your first draft. 

It took me nearly a decade of dabbling and 2.5 years of writing seriously before I finally finished the first draft of my very first novel, so I know firsthand just how difficult it can be to finally make forward progress on your writing projects.

Whether you spend too much time editing as you go, doubting your skills, losing sight of where your story is headed, or getting distracted by shiny new story ideas, I have just the tips you need to finally finish your first draft!


Tip #1: Learn the craft.

Writing is just as much a craft as it is an art. Taking the time to first learn the mechanics behind plot structure, pacing, character development, world-building, settings, theme, and more, you'll have a much better understanding of how to write a cohesive story.

Not sure where to start? Check out the extensive blog archives today!

Tip #2: Pre-write, yo.

While it may be tempting to sit down at your desk, let words flow from your fingertips, and hope that a cohesive story comes together on the page, this approach doesn't often prove to be successful. For many writers, preparation is key.

Pre-writing is the process of mapping out your story's key players, plot and character arcs, settings, themes, and other important story elements before attempting to write the first draft.

Doing so can provide writers with clarity and vision, helping them write faster, avoid key plot holes and pacing problems, and other issues that often plague the first draft. Need a little guidance? Check out The Pre-Write Project workbook today!

Tip #3: Try fast-drafting.

Do you hate the drafting process? I confess: I do, too! I vastly prefer editing to drafting, so if I don't get the first draft down quickly, my motivation to write can quickly peter out. That's why I love fast-drafting!

In essence, fast-drafting is the process of writing your first draft as quickly as possible. First drafts are about getting to know your story, not writing beautiful prose, so fast-drafting can help you finish your first draft quickly and move onto where the magic happens: editing.

Want a better breakdown? Check out my full article on fast-drafting today!

Tip #4: Work to a self-imposed deadline.

Are you motivated by healthy pressure and pretty good at holding yourself accountable? Why not try setting a deadline by which you have to finish your first draft?

Or, if you find that lengthy deadlines don't provide enough motivation, try reaching a daily or weekly word count or timed session count (e.g. 30 minutes a day or 5 hours a week, etc.). Don't forget to reward yourself for a job well done when you reach your goals!

Tip #5: Create an uber outline.

Do you finding yourself losing motivation if the drafting process takes too long? Knowing exactly what you need to write next at any given moment can help you finish your first draft in record time. The easiest way to do this is the create an uber outline while pre-writing your novel.

I personally utilize this technique by mapping out each chapter, and sometimes each scene, in my novel before beginning to write. My most recent outlines have ranged between 10,000 and 20,000 words long! 

That may sound crazy to some, but expanding outlined chapters and scenes rather than making them up on the fly has proved incredibly helpful in my personal mission to finish my first drafts like a boss. You can learn more about my personal outlining process here!


Keep in mind that these tips won't work well for every writer. They're simply the tips and techniques that have proven most helpful to me as I've worked to discover my personal drafting process. 

If you're struggling to finish your own first draft, I'd highly recommend giving them a shot! It takes time to figure out your process, but exploring your options is key. So what are you waiting for? Go get started today!

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