I wrote my first complete novel draft last November, in conjunction with the (in)famous(?) NaNoWriMo event. Okay, I know NaNoWriMo gets some flack in some hoity-toity circles, but it got me to finish– finish!– my first-ever novel draft from beginning to end, so for others who might need that push to just write, I highly recommend doing it at least once. I will be doing it every November for the foreseeable future.
Today I watched a video from the novelist and youtuber, Alexa Donne, about how to draft a book ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHazyVg6GVI ), and when she talked about how that very first novel draft you write is going to be a mess, it was certainly true for me! My first finished novel draft will never ever be read by anyone. No, I don’t care how nicely you ask. 😉
So, I did not get a workable novel out of my first finished draft. But here’s what I did get out of it:
Confidence. I could write a novel from beginning to end– something I had never managed to accomplish before.
Satisfaction. While my “novel” was full of plot holes, inconsistencies, messy grammar and structure, and a lot of truly cringe-worthy moments, I still managed to craft for myself an overall satisfying story. I created complex characters, put them into high-stakes situations, and they emerged triumphant, if not entirely unscathed. There were some truly beautiful moments hidden within the mess.
The Drive. Since that first day participating in the November NaNoWriMo, hardly a day has gone by in which I haven’t written something. Some days I write 2000 words, some days only 200. But I have established a habit of writing regularly which I am determined to keep no matter what.
The Second Novel. In March, I wrote my second complete novel draft. While still not perfect, it was a good deal better than the first, and I have actually let some people read it– my husband read it as I wrote (not literally, like over my shoulder, but I sent him a new chapter almost every night), and was invaluable as an alpha reader and a listening ear when I just wanted to talk about things in my story.
A Whole New World. That second novel became the first planned in a whole series of novels which I hope to write and publish someday, set in my fairy-tale-fantasy world The Six Kingdoms.
And it all emerged because I had the determination and the discipline and the dream (it was actually inspired by a dream) to write that very first clumsy, chaotic novel draft.
And I’m not finished with that first novel, either. While the original draft came out a mess, it did give birth to a rewrite which I hope to someday make into a decent YA trilogy.
But the biggest takeaway from it all is that I can do it. I can write novels. I can write short stories. I can write plays (yes, I have a few plans for those, too).
And if it’s what you want to do, you can do it, too.