Rough drafts are just that: Rough.
Through all of my writing experiences so far, writing the first draft of a story is by far the most challenging part. Getting those words down on paper is a task that, in the best of times, takes weeks or even months. Twitter will tell you all about drafts that have taken years! *Cough* R.R. Martin *cough*.
However, it is the part for which a writer should feel the proudest. (I'm writing this while I procrastinate my WIP by the way.)
My current project will be my fourth completed novel, and I know that I will feel rewarded, tired, happy, furious, and ten other emotions when it's finished, but the key word there is 'finished'. So many authors give up. So many authors only finish one novel! I used to believe that my first novel would be incredible, and agents would be fighting over it due to its amazingness! Well, if nothing has burst your oblivious bubble yet, start the querying process. It's sure to do the job. But this post isn't about querying, or landing an agent. This post is about finishing your first draft.
Kim's tips and tricks to finishing a rough draft:
1) Timeline - Set up a timeline (preferably a realistic one). Tell yourself that you will write 1,000 words a day and then add up your larger goals. My personal default is to overachieve and then subsequently fail according to my self-set timelines. It never feels good, but I do always accomplish something. I believe the cheesy 'Reach for the moon, and even if you fail, you will be among the stars' quote comes to mind. As long as you are making progress, you're on the right track!
2) Speak to Text - This is a tool that I suggest to every author! Is it always useful? No. Does it save your hands massive amounts of pain? YES! Speak to text is fantastic for narration. However, dialogue is its worst enemy. It's a tool that takes practice to master, but even saving your hands in some small capacity is a step in the right direction!
3) Don't write every day! - This is the opposite advice of most authors, but one that I adhere too frequently. I require breaks, and even in my overambitious timelines I schedule days (sometimes multiple days in a row) where I don't even touch my computer. My mind needs to rest, and if I don't step away from my story, it often suffers for it. On occasion, I won't schedule writing time for the day, but I will feel like writing anyways.... so great! Extra words! Most of the time, though, I enjoy my days off and feel refreshed coming back to work later.
4) Plotter or Pantser? - I'm a bit of both. I generally start my stories off by pantsing my way through them. I can get about halfway before I realize that I should probably figure this thing out, so I stop and then outline the rest of the story in more detail. If I try to plot before beginning, I end up with a mess of a story and can often get so caught up in the plot that I lose my characters. By starting as a pantser, I get to know who my characters are and see where they lead the story. My point in all of this is to stress the importance of knowing your process. What works best for me may not work best for you, but do research! Learn what others do and then try out new ways of planning.
5) Don't quit - Giving up on a story is the best way to not finish. This may seem obvious, but the moral of this story is: don't stop! Everyone needs a cheerleader in their life, telling them to keep going! You can do it! This book can be incredible if you keep at it! So here I am, cheering you on, because you've got this!
6) Stop reading this blog and get back to work! :)