Normally this blog is not writing specific, but I am a writer. 🙂 And I believe that everyone has a story to share, a life’s message! I may include tips for writers in this blog from time to time, as well as other areas where I find things that work for me, travel, parenting, home school, etc. “Fearless” is a lifestyle.
Are you writing a story you love, but suddenly hit a wall?
Are you asking yourself if this thing is any good, if it’s worth your time, if you should just trash it and start over?
Before you do anything crazy (i.e.: delete a year’s worth of writing!) , here are a few tips if you get stuck. For non-fiction, these tips can be modified to fit your piece. (Additional suggestions for non-fiction writers can be found at the bottom of this post.)
Three Tips for Writers Stuck in a First Draft
1) Know your message.
What is your message in this piece?
It doesn’t have to be deep, although it can be. It could be “the infinite personal grace of God,” in a book like The Shack, or it could be “sometimes a girl just needs to go to the beach.”
Both have merit, and both have their place. What is the message you want to send? What are you willing to spend time with for however long it takes to write your book?
Knowing the message will help you create a piece with a cohesive theme.
2) Know your endgame.
If you are running into trouble, this is a good time to revisit your outline. If you don’t have one, that’s ok! It might be a good time to make one. And it doesn’t have to look like a traditional outline!
Roman numerals are optional, but it does help to sketch out a few things.
Creatively writing characters and events will take you so far, but at some point you need to know the endgame. Yes, darnit, we have to know the ending first.
If you are having trouble in the middle, try plotting through from where you are in just a few sentences. Try different scenarios, and see what you like best.
If outlining trips you up, try writing the last page to your book. If you were the reader, how would you want this book to end?
3) Go wild, and just write the darn thing already!
Remember to have fun with this–and no deleting until you write a complete first version!
You need a finished first draft. Don’t worry about getting it all perfect the first time through. Think of your draft, not like words carved in stone, but like clay that you will work into a clearer sculpture over time.
If your characters are confused about what to do next, what do you wish you could be doing right this second? Take the day off? Take a nap? Quit your job?Ask for a promotion? Lunch with friends?
Whatever you are longing to do right now, write it. The events will have life because they are alive in you. If it doesn’t fit later, it can be edited to something that does, and you may end up with an essay you can use somewhere else.
If that isn’t enough–send those characters to do something wild! Shave their heads! Join the circus! Steal a car!
With this tactic, always err on the side of the extreme. It will free you up creatively, and it will stand out as either brilliant or absurd when you come back through in edits. If absurd, you could change “join the circus” to “buy a food truck.” All the characters can follow accordingly.
Have FUN! Remember Stephen King’s quote, “Write with the door closed, edit with the door open.”
Anything can happen for now–it’s a first draft!
For nonfiction writers, take these same tips and apply them as fits your piece.
Know your message. Know your endgame: Rather than a fictional ending, what one line of wisdom do you want your reader to remember when they have read your book?
Have fun, and just write! Instead of sending fictional characters on a make-believe journey, what stories can you share to exemplify your message? They don’t have to be “wild,” but they need to make a strong impact to underline your points.
You can move on and polish later. For now, just get words on the page! All the best as you finish that first draft!