Are you a writer faced with a blank page? Check out these tips for writing a first draft from a buffet of published authors, editors, and writers. These writing tips can decrease your fear of writing, and increase your motivation to write your first draft quickly and easily.
Remember: “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” ~ Agatha Christie.
Writers don’t have to be literally writing on a blank page to plan their first drafts. I daresay most writers are visited by the Muse when they’re in the shower, walking in the park, or driving their kids to soccer or ballet practice.
“Listen to your intuition, write from there,” writes Judy Reeves in Wild Women, Wild Voices: Writing from Your Authentic Wildness. “Trust yourself. Trust your pen. Trust your ideas.”
She adds that to write an excellent first draft, we need to listen to our bodies when we write and when we read back what we’ve written. “Listen for the thrill of yes! the excitement of connection with your Truth, the depth of connection with your soul,” she says. “Notice the fear. The anxiety. The surprise. The satisfaction.”
How to Write an Excellent First Draft
Here’s another tip, for whether you’re writing a novel or your life story (or a mixture of both): “In the telling of stories something happens, your whole perception and memory of things begins to change,” said Amy Tan. “You can let go of what you have just told – you give it away.”
In letting go as a writer, you heal as a person.
1. Avoid editing yourself
“When you first put pen to paper, try not to edit yourself and let all your ideas loose, even if you believe they are stupid, cliched, or poorly written. Learn to embrace the process of revising and editing your writing. If you work hard on subsequent drafts, remain persistent, and learn how to be both gentle and honest with yourself, you will make great leaps from draft to draft.” – Laryssa Wirstiuk, founder and editor-in-chief of Too Shy to Stop.
2. Keep your writing plain and simple
“Write the first draft without adjectives and adverbs. You can always add text, but once you’ve added a word, it’s much harder to bring yourself to edit the flowery prose.” – Kate Lee.
3. Let your writing chill
“First: Start with a legal pad, outline it. Second: Write a first draft, close it and walk away till morning – you’ll have great ideas after you’ve left it alone for a while. Third: Pretend to tell the story, description, topic to a friend – then write down how it came out of your mouth.” – Angela Moore.
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Her third tip, by the way, is a great way to find your writer’s voice.
4. Write for yourself first
“The best writing tip that I ever received was from my high school creative writing teacher, (the late) Ms. Daisy Aldan. She told us to write for ourselves first and worry about the corrections later. If you get so tangled up in spelling and grammatical etiquette, then you will interrupt the flow of thought. Your writing will be disjointed.” – Chelle Cordero, author.
5. Write a bad first draft
“This writing tip doesn’t suggest abandoning your standards -just (temporarily) your internal editor. For writers who have a strong superego calling the shots, getting anything onto paper can be a real challenge. Giving yourself the room for imperfection, at least while you’re writing the first draft, is an encouraging and necessary condition for creativity.” – Claire Bardos, screenplay writer.
Indeed – if you’re a writer who needs help overcoming perfectionism, you may be paralyzed by the thought of the blank page.
6. Use words you know…and that readers know
“The best writing tips I received came from a journalism professor who was a former editor at National Geographic. She taught students to write simplistically. Don’t use uncommon or “big” word to show off the fact that you know what a particular word means. Write in a simple manner that your readers will understand.
Your goal as a writer is to enlighten or educate the reader – not speak over him or her. Writers should also use strong verbs and avoid “was” and “is” when possible. For example, “the storm was clearing” is not as strong as “the storm cleared.” – Andrea Aker.
To learn the difference between right and left brain writing, read 7 Essential Tips for Writing the First Draft of Your Book.
What’s your best tip on how to write an excellent first draft? Tell me below…