Author Musing: What I Learned Finishing my Book 3 Draft a Year Late

Hello Everyone!

An odd way to announce that the first draft of my third book, The Legend of Nariko: Hellfire Rising, is finally done after all this time, but I felt it was appropriate given the challenge it presented. When I published my second book, it was January 2021 when the pandemic quarantine was still in it’s early stages. I remember at the time I was unemployed since my office had shut down so I thought I had a lot of time to finish which just lead to further procrastination and eventually despair.

I kept thinking I had so much time which meant that the first draft had to be better than what I would normally do. Looking back on it now, I realize that my approach to handling the first draft was completely wrong and delaying my own schedule. What’s worse is that, in dragging my feet to get it done, I unknowingly ruined my own moral and motivation to get it done. There was a time (several times now that I think about it) that I fell into a bit of depression realizing how long it had taken me to get the first draft done.

Something that helped me to finally push through and finish the draft was realizing that the first draft is something no one will ever see. The first draft is to write out the story, develop the main characters and determine what story arcs and plot points that develop naturally as the story progresses. Some things just come about naturally as you write the story, realizing potential narrative changes and moments of really interesting character development and dynamics. It’s discovery writing and it’s supposed to be messy and disorganized which was the part that I had gotten stuck on. I kept trying to make the story as clean and perfect as possible in the first draft which is just unreasonable.

Looking back on it, now that I’ve finished the first draft and can review the plot points and story arcs that have developed, the story has the potential to be so much better than I had initially planned. For me, there were many things I never would have figured out unless I had done this stream of consciousness writing and let my ideas run free. Of course they were limited by the rules of the worldbuilding and the characters’ personalities and logic, but I was genuinely surprised how well it worked out when I stopped thinking and just wrote.

It was a tough lesson to learn, but I think it’s worthwhile to remember the first draft is meant to be awful. I took the approach of writing this draft the same way I would work on an art piece. The initial sketch is messy and all over the place but you can see the potential with further refinement and drawing. It’s the same way with drafts. The first one’s going to be incredibly messy and the subsequent ones will be more polished until we hit the final draft. The most important part that I think a lot of us struggle with is just being ok with the first draft being an awful mess.

Be messy and then polish it later.

– Raphael

P.S: I know this article is a bit messier than normal, my brain is still recovering from finally pushing out the last part of the first draft.

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