Sunday, February 2, 2014

Things I Learned While Writing My First Draft + Critique Giveaway!

First of all, I hope you are all enjoying our brand new name AND look and feel here on the blog. A lot of our bloggers here at Pub Hub range from Middle Grade to Adult prose, so we figured it was best to break out of the "YA-Only" box and dip our toes in all ranges of writing. Personally, I still write and read mostly in Young Adult, so my views will be limited to that. However, I'm a firm believer that A LOT of the writing advice out there can be applied across the board.

Now onto my post!

Things I Learned While Writing My First Draft

Completing the first draft of my latest YA novel was a big WIN in my writing journey, but it didn't come without some lessons that I humbly acknowledge. I thought I would share some of those with you all today.

Make a schedule for yourself. PLEASE. Just do it. I would write every day for a week and then not touch it for three weeks. It made the process very cumbersome and long because whenever you put that much time in between the last time you wrote, you kind of have to remember all over again what you were working on.


Make note of your process and try a different way next time. I think I could categorize myself as a pantser mostly because I hate outlining. There are so many things that the characters just SHOW you as you go that I find it kind of pointless to outline and be set on a certain pre-defined track when writing. HOWEVER, whenever I didn’t hear any voices telling me what to do, I just wrote a scene way off in the distance that I KNEW was going to happen. And that’s how I wrote the whole story. Bits here, and ending scene there. It was a nightmare to put together, like a giant puzzle where all the pieces weren’t even there. 


I’m going to try my hardest to write my next novel with at least a small outline guide and in the order of the scenes to see if that helps. Who knows – maybe it doesn’t work either! But at least I will know one way or the other if there is a better way than how I tortured myself with this manuscript.

Take TIME. When you complete that novel and hand it off to your critique partners to give you feedback, you can't wait to get going on improving it in the second draft and making every sentence sing and every scene beg to be read in a fury of page flipping. But you need some time away from your work, really. The more time I spent away from my draft, the clearer the issue areas became to me. Yes, critique partners will help to point out some of these things but you as the author will know best. 


Taking some distance from the project will only give you a better outlook on how to further shape your novel when you come back to it.

If there is a will, there's a way. It seems that there are points in the writing journey where we feel like, "Ahh, finally! I have arrived here and now there are no troubles and I'm on my way to being a full-time writing and everything will be perfect now!" Yes, maybe I did feel that when I finished my first draft and yes, maybe it was a bit disillusion. But I know that people think that way when, say, they get an agent or when they sell their first book. They think, "I've finally done it and my struggle is over!" Well, I'm not sure the struggle ever is really over when you're a writer. BUT THAT'S OKAY. Believe it or not, I think writers like that constant weight of pressure. It keeps us going and, being pretty stubborn, we want to prove the odds wrong, we want to rise above the statistics and shine our beautiful words on the world. So, no, unfortunately the journey is still long and hard ahead of you even after getting that first draft in a completed form. But there were times I thought I'd never make it to where I am now, and I did. I have to look at every step that way.


With that said, I would like to give away a query + first 10 page review to celebrate our re-branding here at PubHub! I read/write YA, so I would be mostly qualified to critique something for that target audience. To enter is simple -- just comment on this blog post below and you're in! Make sure to leave an email address so I know how to contact you if you win!

If you want to earn extra entries, you can do one of the following:

1. Follow me on Twitter at @JAWardWrites (add an additional comment below with your Twitter name)
2. Follow PubHub on Twitter at @PubHub_blog (add an additional comment below with your Twitter name)

So that gives you three total chances to enter! I will pick a winner February 16th...Good luck!!

For more from Jessica, visit her blog J.A. Ward Writes and follow @jawardwrites on Twitter!

18 comments:

  1. I just finished my first manuscript and did it just like you--pieces here and there that I had to fit together like a puzzle later. It was hard but I think it helped because at least it kept me writing! Would love to get a critique!

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    1. Thanks Amanda! Please leave an email so i can contact you if you win!

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  2. Great post! Totally agree that sometimes you need time away from your work. I swear as soon as I send something off to my CPs I get a million more ideas though.

    Additional entries: @bethpond90 (I follow both on Twitter)

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    1. Thanks Jodie! Please leave an email so i can contact you if you win!

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  4. I learned that writing is actually re-writing. :) I love this blog.
    My email address is FowlerSarahJ@hotmail.com

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  5. This is a wonderful blog. Thank you for helping me to see some of the 'proper ways' to do things. :) FowlerSarahJ@hotmail.com

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  6. Great Post. Finding the time is sometimes REALLY hard. When I was first writing my MS I wrote in Bursts of 10k and then NOTHING. It was so hard to get back into when I tried to jump back on, and when I DID get into the groove, it was a manic panic of "must write before I run out of time!"
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Oops. Forgot to leave e-mail! EllieMoreton at gmail.com

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  7. I have finished the first draft to several manuscipts. It's picking them up and starting on the editing that I start to do my procrastinating.

    this is a great give-away! Thanks for doing it!

    Rebecca (at) Fyfe (dot) net

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  8. I followed @PubHub_blog on Twitter.

    @ChaBooCha1

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  9. I followed @JAWardWrites on Twitter. :)

    @ChaBooCha1

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  10. You're so right.
    It's amazing how much I saw in my first (and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th drafts) after some enforced time away. VERY hard to peel myself off the obsessive looking-at-it-every-day habit, but SO VERY worthwhile. I found everything from plot holes to POV inconsistencies to errant commas. Gah. How I had missed them before? The whole forest-for-the-trees thing.
    Thanks for this post.
    I would love to benefit from your critique.
    HeatherM66@aol.com
    Also, I just followed @JAWardWrites on Twitter. :)

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  11. Sorry, needed to do it this way:

    I followed @JAWardWrites on Twitter.

    @HeatherMC66

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  12. I followed @PubHub_blog on Twitter:

    @HeatherMC66

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  13. Great post. I follow both you and @PubHub_blog. I'm @alisoncdoherty. Congrats on finishing your first draft!

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  14. Sorry this is so formulaic--I followed both you and @PubHub_blog. My email is yoelin.amy@gmail.com and twitter handle is @AmyYoelin.

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  15. Sorry this is formulaic--I followed both you and @PubHub_blog at the Twitter handle @AmyYoelin. My email is yoelin.amy@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete