Finish Your Draft. . .NOW!

Sunday, March 30, 2014
Finishing drafts!
Why are you still reading this blog post? You should be finishing a draft of whatever it is you're working on. . .now. Me, too. I should be finishing the draft of a YA novel that I started during NaNoWriMo 2013, and it's still not done--no 50,000 words for me. But why am I so passionate today about finishing drafts? I'll tell you two things came up this past week to make me write this blog post.

First, both of my children's and YA novel writing workshop students who stuck with me for several four-week sessions, one poor guy going through a few critique partners even, have both FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF THEIR YA NOVELS! When I read the final words of the guy's novel this past weekend, I almost wanted to cry. He had worked so hard, while also going to college, to write this novel, critique his partner, and continue to improve his craft.

He put a note at the end about how much he was going to have to change of the beginning because the ending is quite different than he had imagined, and he didn't know how he felt. I stopped him right there! I told him: YOU SHOULD FEEL GREAT. Do you know how many people never even finish the first draft of their novels?

Do you have a draft of a novel, memoir, short story, personal essay, picture book, etc. that you haven't finished yet? I can raise my hand yes for this question. It's not easy to finish drafts; so regardless of how much revision has to be done, he wrote from the beginning of the story until the end. Then the fun part begins--revision!

The second thing that happened this week was at my critique group, The Lit Ladies. One of our group members is in a writing funk, and part of her trouble she realized is in writing a sequel to her first published novel. The draft she has (which is not finished) needs big revisions, and the thought of having to delete all that she has already written has her writing almost nothing. My advice was to start a brand new file, so that way she doesn't actually have to delete any words. But the best advice came from the youngest and often wisest member of our group:

"You should finish the draft to the end. Then you can go back and revise."

Exactly! Why didn't I think of that--it's the exact advice I had just given to my students and to myself. Geez, it's the perfect advice. She needs to finish the draft, while keeping notes about what she's going to change at the beginning. But continuing to start over numerous times doesn't get anyone closer to actually finishing a novel, short story or article. You might have a good beginning, but there will be no ending; no one is going to publish or buy that.

So, let's finish our drafts. What draft do you want to commit to finishing? 

Margo L. Dill is a writing instructor for WOW! Women On Writing. Check out her novel and children's writing classes here. She is also the author of the new young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses, and the award-winning middle-grade novel, Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg. Find out more at: 

photo by Bernard Goldbach (typing contest 1926)


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I'm glad to hear that an accomplished author like you is experiencing some frustration. (Sorry. ;) It makes me feel not so bad with the obstacles I deal with.

Right now, I have my first draft from NaNo 2012-2013 in the hands of my beta reader. I've printed it off and am making small notes, and will give copies to my critique group, since it's about them. So, the first draft is finished...but the jury is out--is it worth reading or worth recycling (in the trash)?

Time will tell...

Now, put your butt in that chair and finish that draft.

Margo Dill said...

Oh Sioux, knowing YOU I know that it is worth reading. But that's not the point today is it. . .NO! The point is celebration--you finished the draft. A beta reader has it. This is AWESOME! Congrats. :) Now, what draft do you need to finish? Any? I will get my BIC and finish draft.

Unknown said...

Oh sure, Margo. Kick a procrastinating, fearful, avoidance-practicing writer when she's down. I laughed when I saw the title of this post pop up in my reader. I didn't want to read it. I knew my toes would hurt after, which is precisely why I DID read it. So thank you. Thank you very much. :)

Margo Dill said...

Julie: We can kick each other. :) But we will get them done.

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