Here are the 8 things you should be doing when you are writing your first draft.
1. Have a Basic Story Outline
It doesn’t have to be much. Your outline can be just a few lines listing the plot points or it can be a 10 page outline detailing every plot point and twist in your book. Either way, know the direction of your story before you begin to write it.
2. Write Your Story Summary
To keep you focused on what your story is about, write your story summary or main idea on an index card and post it on your desk, wall, or someplace where it is in plain sight.
3. Use a Plain Text Editor
You really don’t need MS Word for writing your first draft. In fact, if you are the type of person that gets easily distracted with formatting, you should avoid Word altogether when you are writing your first draft. Use a simple, distraction-free text editor, instead.
4. Use Simple Words
Avoid using large, complicated words in your first draft. Stick to simple words, such as hot, cold, tricky, big, and small. You can dress up your words when you are working on your second draft.
5. Forget About Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes
Do not worry about correct spelling, tenses, and any grammatical mistakes while writing your first draft. Heck, while you are at it, you can throw sentence structure right out of the window. The whole point of writing a first draft is to simply get the story out of your head. Nothing else matters at this time.
6. Don’t Edit
For the love of all things good and evil, do not edit. Never, ever edit while writing your first draft. It will break up your flow and cause you to get less done on your actual draft. If you have to, dim your screen and avoid looking at what you have already written.
7. Don’t Stop to Do Research
Can’t remember a simple fact or need the details of a procedure for one of your characters? Do not stop writing to do the research. Instead, put a string of Xs in the spot (or any letters you desire) and come back to those spots after you have completed your first draft.
8. Give Yourself a Deadline
I am one of those people that works best with a deadline. I am also one of those people who will wait until the last possible moment to do something. My only solution to this problem is to give myself a very tight schedule and deadline.
If you aren’t like me, give yourself a reasonable deadline for your first draft. This can be a week, a month, or an entire season. Just have a finish point to work towards so that you don’t find yourself working on your first draft for years to come.