Congratulations! You have decided to embark on writing the first draft of your story.
There’s a good chance that you’ve been on this journey before. You tried writing another story that didn’t go as planned. And by planned, I mean writing the story from start to finish.
That’s why you’re reading my blog post. Because you want to get it right this time.
Easy, right? Not quite.
We all have a weakness that turns into our writing’s own worst enemy. I have compiled the most common reasons why we abandon writing our first drafts with solutions on how to not let these obstacles hold our story back.
We’re all guilty of this. It’s a trap letting yourself get stuck on how a sentence is phrased or how a character said their line when you could be focusing on moving the story forward with action.
It’s a first draft. Your sentences are supposed to suck.
Focus On This Instead: Many great stories that we’ll never read or hear or see are abandoned because the storyteller couldn’t move the story forward.
So keep the story moving forward.
Focus on creating action on the page, not how it’s done or how it’s expressed. Circle that annoying sentence for your future editing round. Then keep writing.
A Perfect Plot Structure
Think of a puzzle. You open the box and pour out all the pieces so you can build it. And you can’t complete the puzzle unless all of the pieces are available to you.
So why do you try to build your story when you don’t have all the pieces?
Don’t get caught up in the fact that your story doesn’t follow a cookie cutter plot structure. Or any plot structure, for that matter. If you halt your writing because your story isn’t reaching the first inciting incident soon enough, you’re that much closer to abandoning your story altogether.
Focus On This Instead: The purpose of the writing your first draft is to get all of your ideas out on paper so that you can shuffle scenarios around until it makes for the perfect plot structure.
Focus on getting all of your ideas out about your story on paper. Even if they don’t make sense. Even if it doesn’t happen in the right order.
You can edit that later.
There are two kinds of writers: Those who love writing descriptions and those who love writing everything else except that.
I am in the second camp.
No matter your preference, descriptions can stall the progression on your first draft. If you love writing descriptions, you can let yourself get so buried in describing a scene or character that you forget to write the plot of your story. If you dread describing anything, that necessary description blocks the progression of writing what you do want to write.
Focus On This Instead: Keep your description as short as possible, hitting just the necessary ideas that need to be expressed, and then move forward with your story.
If you’re anxious to keep the story moving forward, make a note that a description is needed here with key points to cover before launching into the action. You can save that description for a day when you’re in the mood to write it.
Adhering to Your Story Outline
You spent weeks planning and plotting and writing it all down in a color-coded outline. But now you’re at a crossroads where the characters want the story to change direction.
What do you do?
That’s not what you want.
Focus On This Instead: Don’t give yourself a reason not to write. If the characters want to act in a different way than you initially brainstormed, let them explore it.
If it ends up being a dead end, scrap it and continue on your meticulously-planned way. If it ends up being an eye-opening game-changer, then give yourself permission to discover your story with your characters.
The Small Stuff
Should your character wear braids or curls? Should the weather be sunny or partly cloudy?
Thoughts like this distract you from writing your story. And if you let yourself look up just one fact online, you are soon caught in the time-suck of the Internet search engine.
You already don’t have enough time to write. So why do you give in to distraction?
Focus On This Instead: Minute details can wait until the editing process. Make a note of it and move on with your story.
While a small detail can make a big story impact, that’s something you can weave in later once you have your story all down on paper.