There’s no right or wrong way to write the first draft of your novel; the important thing is to get your words down. Some people find it helpful to set themselves a daily or weekly word count target, whilst others may write for a particular amount of time in any given day. Some people carefully plot every stage of their story before beginning their draft, whilst others may have a rough idea and allow themselves to be swept along in inspiration’s flow, taking many unplanned, but rewarding, diversions along the way.
It can be intimidating to stare at a blank screen (or blank page in
your notebook), trying to craft the perfect first line, the perfect first
paragraph, the perfect first page. Spoiler: You’re unlikely to achieve this
straight off the bat. And that’s all right. At a writers’ forum I frequent,
some of the writers don’t call their first draft a first draft, but a Draft
Zero instead. They allow themselves to write a messy first draft, knowing they
can polish it up in later drafts. This makes the blank page a lot less
intimidating to conquer.
I’m currently working on a new WIP, and I’ve set myself a daily word
count goal of 1,000 words. My aim is to get this draft finished by the end of
this month (or maybe by mid-August if I want to make things a little easier for
myself – after all, the only person I’m competing here with is me). Some days I
achieve more than my goal, other days I achieve less. And that’s okay.
Sometimes I can write every day. Sometimes I take a break from writing. And
that’s okay, too. This is very much a messy Draft Zero, but that’s fine, and it
certainly takes the pressure off when I stare at my blank page. As long as I’m
moving my story forward, I can polish it up in later revisions.
How do you work through the intimidating whiteness of a blank page in your own WIPs?