What I’ve Learned – 1st Draft to 2nd Draft

In the last two months, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself as a writer. I am rather proud of myself, though I wish I had others to share it with. Early this morning I finished my 2nd draft of my story. This story started out as something I thought about writing over a year ago but due to my injury, I never got around to writing it.

Then NaNoWriMo 2013 came around and I decided I was going to do it. In years past, I had tried to do it and failed. Somehow, November was also the worst month of the year for me. But this year was different. Now during this time, I was big into gaming, and was leader of a guild in SWTOR. I decided to take a break from the guild to focus on writing.

I tried to organize a writing event for the guild since there were a few aspiring writers, but I was the only one who showed up to the event. I set the goal of 6000 words by the end of November 3rd. Given you are suppose to maintain an average of 1667 to meet the 30 day goal, 6000 is a lot. My first day, I had 7,000. I of course thought that was a fluke and figured it would reduce as I wrote more, but by day 2, I was at 12,000 words.nanograph

For the most part, I maintained a 5k average for when I did write. I am certain I could have finished by day 10 or 11 if I pushed myself, but guild drama prevented that. When you write, you need an environment without distraction, and when you deal with drama, it is hard to deal with anything else.

So by day 14 I finished the challenge, though it took me another to finish the story. Now on Twitter, you see a lot of people giving advice, but I live by the advice. I just wrote the story. I didn’t care if what I wrote fit in with what I had, or make sure everything lined up. If I think I forgot something, I would add it to what I was currently writing. Even after the NaNo challenge, my goal was to get done.

Before I mention the 2nd draft, I do want to touch on the point that I only had about 5 chapters planned (which turned into 6 chapters as chapter 3 became 3 and 4). I didn’t know what was going to happen after the story nor did I know how it would end. It was fun telling other NaNo writers about that before it began. Most were surprise that I was under prepared. In truth, I had my characters well planned out. I spent a good few months setting them up, and then they told me the story. That’s how I write and it proved successful to me. Now I understand not everyone can do it like me and I will be the first to say, do what works for you.

So at the end of the first draft, I had 75k words and 208 pages. I did all of that in notepad. I then formatted in MS Word. I found as I went back and reread it, I was adding more content…a lot more content. By the time I was done, I was at 90k words and 252 pages. I increased my story by 20%. It could also be seen that by the time I finished my first draft, I was 80% complete.

I am actually OK with that number. It’s like if you were building a car and got 80% of it complete. You could probably still drive it, and you have to so you can go to the parts store and purchase the remaining 20%. With my story written, I went back and made sure all the components fit and all the loose ends were tied up. I think I produced a wonderful story.

I learned that with the first draft, you’ve got to get the story done. Just keep writing it. Don’t look back. Once you come to the point where you believe you are done, stop. Stephen King suggested you wait 6 weeks before looking at it again. Thanks to my disability, my memory is shot, so reading it again felt like it was 6 weeks ago. Then do the editing, then do the mechanical work to make it run smoothly.

I also learned that I am ready to be a writer. I’ve always had the gift, I’ve always had the desire, but I lacked the motivation. More than that, I always felt that I hadn’t really lived life, I hadn’t really met people and understood them. How can I write about people if I don’t understand them? I waited 15 years to be ready, and only in the last few years did it happen. I went from being a loner, to joining a social group and being that creepy guy in the background to becoming fairly popular, and then losing all of that due to disability. I lived a life and now can write about it.

Ask yourself if you are ready to write. Really ask yourself. If you say no to that, then it will show in your writing. And you will set yourself back for many years to come. I’m 33 and now beginning to write, and I’ve started writing when I was 9yo old. We’ll see how I do, but I am confident and hopeful that in a 5yr time frame, I will fantastic.

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Help Keep This Site Running

The success of this site has been a dream come true. It is my hope for this to remain on the internet indefinitely, but due to my disability, my funds will be short. I need your help to keep this site running.

I need $125 by October 30th, 2017. Anything you can give will help.


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