Completing My First Draft: Three Things I’ve Learned


by Jennifer Kelland Perry

Two weeks ago today, I had a fabulous evening.

Late on that Friday afternoon, I typed the last word of the last sentence of the last chapter of my Work In Progress. It felt wonderful! What a sense of satisfaction filled me as I raised my glass of Cabernet and toasted to my awesomeness. What an accomplishment! I spent the rest of the evening, and well into the night, celebrating, mentally patting myself on the back and grinning like an idiot.

My euphoria lasted about as long as the hangover. Over the next couple of days as planned, I reviewed a few of the writing tips and tricks I had bookmarked for my upcoming revision and editing process, and I crashed back to sober reality. I realized there was still plenty of work ahead, and instinctively I know certain areas have to be improved, rearranged, and completely rewritten, and then there’s my iPad with an app full of collected notes, jockeying to make it into the finished product as well.

But that’s okay. Every writer knows the first rough draft is exactly that: a first run, a rough copy, and yes, some of it is just plain sh#t. But in among the steaming heaps that stank, I knew there were jewels just waiting to be polished, the little jewels that make it all worthwhile.

Here are three chief concepts I believe every writer, who truly wants to be a writer, needs to remember.

1. No one wants to read about a Goody Two Shoes. If I expect readers to keep turning the pages, my characters have to be flawed. Whether that makes you like them, or love to hate them, depends on the types of flaws they embody – and maybe it depends on the sort of person you are, and what types of characters you are drawn to and like to read about. As important as plot may be, really, it’s all about the characters.

2. If you aren’t having any fun while you write, I don’t know how you will ever make it as a writer. A writer writes because she wants to, she has to, regardless of recognition or book sales. The fulfillment is in the process. And it’s a hard process. The best piece of advice I read about writer’s block was to put the manuscript aside and try penning a poem, or exploring another creative endeavor.

3. You have to want to write another book as soon as you’re finished the one you are now writing. The sweet possibility of a sequel keeps whispering in my ear, and that excites me. If I do write a sequel, however, it doesn’t mean the first one will depend on it. The novel I’m writing now will be able to stand alone in its own right. Then there are the flashes of inspiration for other book ideas that come during my writing, to which I can refer and develop when needed.

I’m waiting another couple of weeks to give myself more objectivity, before I start revisions. In the meantime there are plenty of good books and other reading material that beg for my attention.

Then on to the Second Draft!

Please share your thoughts with me about your Work in Progress.



Guest post contributed by Jennifer Kelland Perry. Jennifer is the author of the Calmer Girls Series, available on Amazon.
This article was originally published on her blog here.
Connect with Jennifer around the web on her Website, Twitter,
Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram page.

37 thoughts on “Completing My First Draft: Three Things I’ve Learned

  1. Had to smile when I read this. Such a great feeling when you place that last period… Highs and lows keep coming. From the euphoria of hitting that publish button to the despair of that terrible review. And through it all, even when you swear you will never put yourself through this torture again, scenes and dialogue for the next book sizzle in the back of your mind 🙂
    “Nobody likes a Goody Two Shoes.” Absolutely right. It is all about the characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 2016 I finished my first rough draft (although my critique group went through it once) last SEPT with 130,000 word count for a SciFi Fantasy Genre. Then I decided to write the sequel (Book 2) during NANOWriMO. I have over 60K not very well written words on the sequel, which I put aside and plan to jump into once I finish revisions of Book 1. I’ve been doing revisions for months now but I’m planning on wrapping it up here in late JUN or early JULY since I go back to school JULY 10th.

    Rough draft with full critique, and revisions = Beta read (I hope).

    So here is the idea….Write 2 books a year. Boom, drop the mic!

    I want to slam through a rough draft writing during NOV in NANO month (since I have a great NANO support writing group which keeps me on track, and I take off a few weeks from work to really get the word count). Then throw that off to the side and spend DEC – JUNE in revisions for last book I wrote.

    Then I spend JULY-SEPT finishing off BOOK 2 (130,000ish words).
    Rinse and repeat.

    If I make my revisions deadline I’ll have 3 books written by the end of this year??? and so on and so forth.

    I think I took 10 days to celebrate between finish of RD and beginning Nanowrimo. I love all of it. LOVE IT! Hope to get some publishing thing going soon which will prob put a whole wrinkle in the time space continuum of my schedule. Pbbtththththhhh I’m game. I bought dictation software recently.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Having fun is indeed important. We might not necessarily be having a blast while we’re writing, but the overall process from story idea to typing ‘The End’ should bring us pleasure. Otherwise what’s the point? Great article, Jennifer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such good advice! Especially the second point, in my opinion.
    I’ve met writers who don’t really enjoy writing. I’ve met writer who write what they don’t really enjoy. Some of these writers do it for money, but some others… I don’t really know why they’re doing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s a great moment when you get to ‘the end’ and realise you’ve written a novel! Those are interesting lessons and the second one resonates – I re-wrote my second novel in a few weeks after really thinking about the question of which bits I enjoyed writing – and writing more in that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had fun writing my first two novels. Why the next one became such a chore I’ll never know. My editor/friend has had it for over a year and during this time I should have had two more books written. I didn’t want to write for the longest time. A few weeks ago I started back, but it’s more a chore than the fun it used to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Finishing my first novel is one of the best and vivid memory I have. Years later, I’m editing through it with my beta reader to try to publish soon. It’s been a long journey, but I’ve loved it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve come to the realization that the intense anguish and feeling of dread people get when they first read their own writing is often not about the quality of it, but being overwhelmed. It’s when we have no idea where to start and only see this huge workload before us. This post is really positive and uplifting!

    Liked by 1 person

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