Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What I Learned From My First Draft

As I began writing my first draft for Runaway Mortal, I was very unhappy.

Why? Because starting a new WIP meant that I had to put away my other WIP, an Adult Urban Fantasy titled Siren Song.

So, why didn’t I just keep writing what made me happy? Because I am a moron.

My goal was to complete a Young Adult manuscript by the end of 2011 and Siren Song was not Young Adult. Reluctantly, I began a new WIP, Runaway Mortal, and I wrote at a snail-like pace. I constantly complained to my fiancé about how Runaway Mortal was nowhere near as good as Siren Song and that I would never be able to come up with an idea that I liked as much.

Meanwhile, the word count of Runaway Mortal grew but it lacked that “special something” that Siren Song had. I blamed this on the story. I blamed it on the characters. I blamed it on the idea.

Honestly, I should have been blaming myself.

If I had, I would have realised earlier on that the problem was me. I was sabotaging myself. I wasn’t in love with my story. I wasn’t in love with my characters, and because of this my story was bland. I may as well not have written it, that’s how horrible it had become.

I made a split second decision to can Runaway Mortal and work on Siren Song, but something stopped me. It suddenly dawned on me that I was putting myself down. I didn’t believe that I could come up with a story concept as good as Siren Song. What was I trying to tell myself? Why did I want to be a writer if I couldn’t learn to start new projects with enthusiasm?

So, I stayed with Runaway Mortal and I really worked hard on it. I wrote more in 2 months than I had written in 7. That reality amazed me. I really had been sabotaging myself. I pushed through and finished my first draft and you know what happened after that? I could NOT stop thinking about Runaway Mortal. I started writing scenes for it, began a new first chapter and did world building. I couldn’t stay away.

I guess what I am trying to say is be happy with what you are writing. Lose yourself in your world and your characters. Don’t write something that frustrates you, write what you love.

And love it. Really, really love it.


  1. LOVE this post! Especially the last part. Diving back into my NaNo rewrites, I need to remind myself that I do love this story and I need to write what I love :)

  2. Thanks, Amber! Sometimes it's better to let go but sometimes you need to find something to love in that messy first draft.

  3. It is amazing what we learn about ourselves through our writing, isn't it?
    Good for you for pushing through!

  4. This is a great lesson. It's really important to write what you love. It takes so much work and energy to write a book. It's not worth it if you aren't enjoying it! I'm glad you ended up loving your book in the end.

  5. I definitely learned a lot from my first draft and I'm glad I stuck with it.

  6. You've definitely figured out the correct formula.. this is wonderful advice.. sometimes we need to remind ourselves to fall in love again :)

  7. wow - great advice. i'm starting up a new project soon, and i shall remember this when picking which story i continue next!

    happy writing komal!

  8. Writing really is such a wonderful experience. I'm also writing a book and I learned so many things. I suppose in the end the only thing that can stop you from writing one hell of a book is really only yourself.

  9. Kemal, I'm so happy you found yourself happy with this. Honestly, I think the more you work on something the more inspired you become. Good for you!

  10. I love it when you have those sudden writing moments where 2 months writing tops the last 7… I’m nearly ready to move into the query stage with my manuscript, which means I face the daunting decision of “what to write next?!” I have 3 ideas to choose from, and while 2 seem “more appropriate” at this time, and the 3rd one is just massively overwhelming, I love that story. I want to write it… Have to! Hopefully I follow your advice!

  11. Just checking in...hope you are well, Komal! Haven't seen you all week. :)

  12. I read the first chapter folks - It was great and it was the first draft!!!

  13. Thanks for sharing! Glad that you figured out what was going on, and were able to work on it.


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