A corollary to my previous post (make sure your first draft sucks) is that you need to trust yourself.

I’ve finished Act Two. (As if. It’s not “finished”. The first draft is finished. But, that said, all of the story that needed to be told before the second plot point has been told.)

I know pretty much how Act Three ends. Pretty much. It can change. I know who the hero needs to defeat first, I know how the hero will discover who the actual antagonist is (everyone up to that point have been henchmen) and that’s it.

Once sentence, thirty-two words and from that I will write about 20,000 words for Act Three. If you write, you’ve all been in this position. And if you write, you’ve probably been in this position, watching a cursor blink on your screen while you figure out what words to use.

Here’s my advice: Use any words you want.

I am a strong advocate for plotting. Those thirty-two words above are all the plotting you need for Act Three. Trust yourself. It’s the first draft. You’ll have some good stuff and you’ll have some absolute shit, but that doesn’t matter. It’s. The. First. Draft.

Just write. Right?

It’s common knowledge that you can’t write a book without finishing the first draft. It is also common knowledge, or it should be, that your first draft will always be crap.

Seriously.

And you’d think after eleven books I’d remember this. It’s been taking me forever to complete the first draft of book number twelve. It’s got great characters, it’s set in a colourful place and the story is pretty much broken. So what’s the problem?

I’ve forgotten that the first draft can be crap. Should be crap. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that if your first draft isn’t crap, you’re not doing it right. Or write.

And that’s been my problem.

It occurred me today that, despite the history I have writing, I’m trying to produce a publishable first draft. That’s just stupid.

So I think it’s useful to review Tony’s Essential Rules of Writing a First Draft.

Tony’s Essential Rules of Writing a First Draft.

  1. Spend a serious amount of time not writing, making sure you’ve figured out the story, where it ends, where it starts, what the key plot points are.
  2. Write. As frequently as possible.
  3. Continue writing until you’ve finished the story.
  4. Do not give a rat’s ass about spelling, grammar or character names while writing
  5. Aren’t you listening? Forget about the spelling.
  6. Remember Point 3. Finished the damned thing, then worry about the stuff in point 4.
  7. Remember that even JK Rowling wrote a shitty first draft.

Easy, right? Write.