Congratulations on taking the first step to writing your first project! Beginning your first project may be your most daunting task, but don’t worry. You have come to the right place.
This will be your first step and milestone as a writer. If you take the steps I state below, your journey will most likely be durable.
Why Do You Want to Write?
Before you begin, you must figure out your purpose. Why do you want to write? If you like journaling, write out your thoughts or even bullet points. You must understand that each project you partake in needs to have a purpose. If not, then you shouldn’t write it.
Next, your project should be based on something that interests you. List favorite works by authors that you have read or like to read. Study their genre, and decide if it’s the one that suits you the best.
After making a list of your reads, decide what type of project you want to begin. Are you a non-fiction or fiction writer? Do you like picture books or middle-grade novels (ages 8-12)? Are you interested in short stories? How about research articles? Decide what moves you the most and begin to brainstorm.
Last, define your target audience or ideal reader. What will their demographics be, and will you appeal to young readers or adults?
Planning Your First Draft
In my previous blog, I discussed what a pantser and a plotter are. Both are important for the writing process, and doing both is effective. However, it’s completely up to you to decide which one suits you best.
Regardless of which one you pick, there is a method that you may find helpful, especially if you are writing a novel. The Snowflake Method, written by Randy Ingermanson, talks about planning out your first draft. This is an effective method that has helped many writers, even myself.
There are 9 steps to this method:
- One sentence summary
- One paragraph summary
- Character summary list
- One page synopsis
- Character synopsis
- 4-page synopsis (similar to a book proposal when querying for lit agents)
- Character bible
- Scene breakdown
- Plan for each scene
If you are not writing a novel, there are other ways to brainstorm your project. Websites like Reedsy can help you write the first draft.
Writing Your First Draft
Many writers find the first draft to be challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Embrace the fact that your first draft may not be the best one, not to say that you cannot write a great first draft. As stated above, the snowflake method is an effective strategy you can apply.
Some writers in the community call it “the junk draft”. However, it doesn’t have to be a junk draft. It’s important not to overthink at this stage because if you do, you will not finish promptly. If you are a pantser, write from your mind as much as possible. If you are a plotter, refer to your outline. Don’t worry if you make mistakes along the way. If you need additional help, I recommend a book called First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner.
After writing your first draft, put it away for several weeks. Spend time with your family, friends, or your hobbies. It’s important to take time away from your work because you will come back with a new set of eyes before you edit. I highly recommend you read through it and jot down notes before making any edits.
Your first project may be difficult, but if you follow most of the steps above, it will be a smoother process. Please comment below if you have questions or concerns.
My next blog will be about editing your draft so stay tuned.
Samantha T. White is a fiction writer with a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology. She is an account specialist during the day and a writer at night. She enjoys reading, exercising, and playing her guitar. You can follow her on Twitter, IG, and Facebook.