Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Number One Hindrance to Writing A Fast First Draft {Guest Post + GIVEAWAY by Jessica R. Patch}

Wow! It's so great to be here hanging out with the amazing Alley Cats! Thanks, Laurie, for having me today.

Many of you are in the throes of Nano! Are you feeling the heat? Have you been feeling it since Day 1? Are you over the 10K mark and thinking, "This is the worst piece of poo I've ever written." 

Ready to throw in the towel? 

Please don't! Keep writing. You can do this thing. I know it. 

I know what it's like to feel the stir of excitement as a story takes shape. The characters burn in your heart and their witty dialogue fills your mind at neck-breaking speed. You barely have time to catch your breath let alone jot it all down. You forget to take your kid to school and realize it when you pull into the parking lot at work (maybe that's just me).  

The blank page awaits. There'll be no "dark and stormy night" here. 

One month. I can do this. I got this. 

And then...

This happens. 

(Check out the Charlie Brown clip, we're about to learn something.) 

You're on top of the world, but the voices come fast and hard overlapping the other.

You're ruining it! 
I told you to get rid of those adverbs. 
Does this scene drive the plot forward? 
Did you offer up any new information?
Show don't tell!
Tighten that sentence!
Do you want to end up a hack? 
You'll never write like _____________ (fill in the blank).

You slow down to fix everything every writer has ever offered up as solid advice. Instead of pushing ahead, you're slashing scenes and begging your neighbors to bring you chocolate and coffee. 

The biggest hindrance to finishing a fast first draft (or any draft) is insecurity.

I've been known to let all those voices into my head. And then I begin to doubt. Maybe I'm not a writer after all. No, I'll never be like (insert favorite author here). This story is drivel. Maybe I should go back and fix it here...and here...how many times can they sigh? Smile? Frown? Raise an eyebrow? I have no plot. I have no real goal. No conflict. I can't keep shooting them. Eventually I'll have to hit them and not miss. No one can be that bad of a shot. 

Take heart, my friends. Every single writer has flaws. We're people. We all make mistakes. Even Stephen King. Even your favorite author.

This is when we pull a Linus.

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! Point the finger (preferably index, but it's your hand) Lay those voices out! Show them who is on top of the house! 

Yeah, you aren't following all the rules. You're overusing words and phrases. Adverbs come like pelts of water on a hot pavement. Maybe you didn't drive the plot forward in that last scene or share new information.

This is still a fabulous story. And you can come back through in revisions and fix it. Who knows, maybe in the scene that didn't drive the plot forward, a new emotional layer formed. Maybe in the scene that didn't offer any new information it did offer a few zingers that you can place somewhere else later. 

And hey, these days deleted scenes aren't time wasted. They're called bonus material, outtakes, and a way to drive traffic and readers to your website. Maybe you can laugh at yourself and call those scenes your blooper reel. Readers won't berate you, they'll love you for being real. They'll get a kick out of your process. 

Because it is a process. Take a deep breath. Let it go (and now I'm singing the song from Frozen. Fabulous). Don't give up. Don't let the internal editor and voices of doubt hinder you from writing the story of your heart. 

Notice when Linus asks, "Are any of you secure?" the only one who is, is the one barreling through and kicking up dust. 

PigPen isn't scared of getting messy. And he sure doesn't care what others think of him. 

I leave you with one more nugget. Linus found his security in a blanket. For us Christian writers, our security is Jesus Christ. Let Him wrap you up and hold you close as you plow through the hard ground of a first fast draft. Dream. Revel in the newness....and kick up some dust! 

You can always fix it in January when you allow the internal editor to come out and play, or crack the whip! Now go get your NaNo second wind on and write! Celebrate. You. Are. A. Writer.


Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with ice-cold Perrier and adventurous trips in the name of research. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer's class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, dominating her son at board games, and collecting recipes to wonderful dishes she'll probably never cook. She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.


Subscribe to Jessica's newsletter/email list and receive her FREE Christmas novella, Hope Under Mistletoe. Here's a peek:

A rowdy bar owner. A widowed pastor’s wife. And Christmas Hope that brings them together.

After widower Eden Snow’s church almost burns to the ground, she’s compelled to find a temporary place to hold services and Christmas cantata practices.

Has-been hockey player, Knox Everhart, has a reputation for being fast on the ice and with women. Except Eden. She’s always been a fascinating mystery to him, which is why he agrees to let her use the back room of his bar—with one rule: No converting his customers.

But when Eden brings the church to the bar, it offers something the bottle can’t. Hope. And he finds himself falling in love with a woman and a Savior he feels unworthy to pursue.

Also check out her Hope Under Mistletoe Pinterest board and meet the "cast" as well as stroll through the fictional town!

You can also connect with Jessica on FACEBOOK and TWITTER


Your turn: Instead of focusing on insecurities, what's one of your writing strengths? Don't be shy! Leave a comment and then enter below to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

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Casey said...

Eee! Jess is here today! I love it! Thanks for filling up the Alley today with your wisdom and sunshine. :)

Jessica R. Patch said...

Hey sweet Casey! I'm so pumped to be over here today. Thank you for your encouragement. Hugs.

Susan said...

YES!! To all of the above. It's what has me frozen over my keyboard and new WIP currently!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Jessica, I LOVED this post! My name is Jeanne and I have insecurities. Yes, that's me. Such good words.

I actually love writing the fast draft. I've learned to just spit the story onto the page, knowing I'll be fixing it later. I never go back and edit because I know I'll get too caught up in it. :) And then the fast draft will be a snail-pace draft. :)

For me, one of my writing strengths is story world. I like seeing the scene and writing what I'm seeing. :)

Laurie Tomlinson said...

I can't believe you hadn't been to The Alley before, Jessica! Please come back often? You're so good at communicating excellent advice <3 I'm the worst at fast drafting, but totally admit my need to get better. I'm going to be brave and get back to it!!

Jill Kemerer said...

Insecure? Me? YES! And I'm the type of writer if my first three chapters are off, I can't move forward until I know why and fix them. :)

Jessica R. Patch said...

Susan, you got this! He's got this, actually, but you know that.

Jeanne, thanks for sharing your strength. It helps when you can see it like a movie in your head, doesn't it?

Laurie, I haven't! But I'm glad to be here today and I'd love to come back. Thanks for inviting me. You rock, lady!

Jill, you are an amazing writer. My first few chapters are the worst. But I typically don't go back until after I'm done with the first draft. By then I really know my characters better, but I'm not an amazing plotter like yourself. You are so good at that!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Love this, Jess!!! Blech to those blasted insecurities. :) I'd say one of my strengths is organizing my edits. I know, I know, it sounds sooo exciting, right?

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Yay! So happy you're here! Can not wait to read your novella! Great stuff today, Patch!

Rachel Alison said...

Wow, I actually don't really watch holiday movies...but I have seen the Candy Cane story one, and that one was really cute :-)

Also, THANK YOU for this post! I'm writing a first draft right now, and only 2k words in, I've already hit a rough patch. Your encouragement is just what I needed :-)

Jessica R. Patch said...

Sarah: Any kind of organzing sounds exciting. I'm kinda a lover of that thing, too. We should share notes on how we do it!

Amy: Thank, St. Louis! I hope you enjoy it. It's so cool to hang out with ya'll today.

Rcubed: I'm a fan of about any Christmas story. :) I'm glad you left encouraged. Keep writing through it. You'll get it all figured out and then can revise later! 2K is great! Way to go.

Terrie Todd said...

"I can't keep shooting them" made me laugh out loud. Thanks for a great post!

Rachelle O'Neil said...

What a great post, Jessica! Thanks so much for sharing it with us! :) And I love the idea of focusing on our strengths instead of our insecurities (positive focus instead of negative), so, let's see. I think one of my biggest writing strengths is my use of emotion. I may use too many adverbs or be a bit too wordy, but the thing I consistently hear is that my beta readers feel the emotions I'm conveying.

As for holiday movies, White Christmas is probably my all-time favorite. I use to love it as a child, and now I love and actually understand it better. :D