Writing a book has been one of my ambitious for longer than I care to remember. I’ve always found an excuse about why I can’t do it or shouldn’t do it.
In 2018 I was determind to write my first novel, especially as I was out of work and had the time to dedicate to such a project. I got to about 20’000 words, which isn’t an insignificant amount, and abandoned the project completely. Why did I decide to abandon it? I’m not sure. Part of it had something to do with me thinking that it wasn’t good enough. I had an idea in my head that all I had to do was sit at my desk and the prose would flow like a waterfall. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work like that.
In January I sat down and made myself 4 writing goals. I decided it would be my goal (come what may) to write a first draft of a novel. I came prepared this time and I read Jon Acuff’s book, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. I wrote my thoughts about it here. I wanted to use as many of the practical tips in the book to help me. And yesterday I finished the first draft of my first novel. After hitting the last full stop, I can honestly say I have never felt so emotionally and physically drained. And I’ve ran more than one painfully slow marathon!
I am under no illusion that this is a rough first draft with a capital ‘R’ but at least it exist now! I had an idea of a story and, apart from having a solid idea about a couple of the main characters and a loose idea for the plot, I just wrote. As I was writing, I already knew there would be parts of the plot to fix, details about the characters and their relationships to work on and a clearer presentation of the locations needed to be given to the reader. These would’ve been hurdles that would have previously stopped me in my track but Acuff’s book and the quote below kept me focus on my aim of finishing the draft.
Another way I kept myself going was to write some notes about things to add and consider in the next draft as they occurred to me as I wrote so that I didn’t forget them. I now have a list of things to start with and a surprising number of things to research and fact-check when I start editing and rewriting it.
I know there is a lot of work to do with this book but I also know I have a very good framework to build on. I’m now going to leave the draft for a few months and come back to it later in the year with a fresh pair of eyes and some new ideas.
Until then I am very much looking forward to getting back to short story writing and script writing.