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The Write Process: First Draft

This article is going to be a little more pep talk than informative. Writing the first draft is a significant accomplishment for any writer. It’s the first chance to see where that idea in your head is going to go. Even if you have outlined your story to death, surprises are sure to come when you finally put pen to paper.

Here is a list of “rules” I use to get my first draft completed with as little hair pulling and head bashing as possible.

Rule 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff

The first draft isn’t supposed to be perfect. Don’t fret if not all your characters have the perfect names or one scene doesn’t quite fit the way you hoped.

Rule 2: Don’t Edit

If you are anything like me, you may be tempted to polish that paragraph a bit. Fix those spelling errors and minor grammar issues as you go. Don’t do it. Not only will it slow the writing process but how will you know if your paragraph makes since there if you don’t have completed work.

Rule 3: Don’t talk about Write Club

It may be super tempting to discuss your cool ideas with friends, family, and fellow writers. While it’s not always bad to bounce ideas off people when you get stuck on something, it can also lead to second-guessing your plan.

Rule 4: Deadlines are suggestions

Unless you have a publisher breathing down your neck, take your time. Getting the first draft done is arguably the best part of the writing process. The time when your imagination should be able to roam free and mingle with your excitement to write. Take your time and smell the pages.

Rule 5: Just write!

You can’t have a first draft if you never write it in the first place. Writing is hardly the best time and best place sort of activity. Get your words in whenever you can and don’t be afraid to mix things up to help you get in the writing groove.

Now that you know the “rules” for completing your first draft, it’s time to get writing!

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What’s in a name?

A pen name, pseudonym, nome de plume, or literary double is an assumed name used by a writer instead of their real or legal name.

Reasons to use a Pen Name

Writing in Multiple Genres – The most common use of pen names today is by established authors who don’t want to aggravate their base readership by producing novels outside their established genre. Examples include Nora Roberts who uses JD Robb to pen her suspense novels and Jessica Byrd who changed her name to JR Ward to publish her highly successful dark suspense The Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Switching Publishers– Perhaps you have an exclusivity deal with a publisher under your current name, but you have a project they aren’t as excited to publish as you are. Using a pen name would allow you to take that work to another publisher or even self-publish.

Anonymity– Maybe you just want some privacy or a strict separation between your personal and professional life. Much like in the past, many authors have day jobs or positions within their community that would be negatively impacted by their choice of writing. There have been several cases in the news about teachers who were fired or shut out of their community because it was found they wrote erotica or dark romance.

Name too common or complicated– Becoming an author has been made easier than ever with the rise of free self-publishing platforms. Standing out amongst the millions is even harder if you have a common name like John Smith or Mary Johnson. In this case, you want to choose a name that will help distinguish you from all the rest. On the flip side, if you have a long first or last name or a name with more consonants than vowels, you may stand out negatively. Hard to pronounce names mean less word of mouth recommendations and if your name is too long it might not fit neatly on your covers.

Things to consider when choosing a Pen Name

The similarity to famous Authors– You might think it a great idea to choose a pen name like JP Rawling or James Peterson, but it can actually hurt your ability to sell. The literary world is full of diehard fans who will gladly pan your work and spam your books with negative reviews in defense of their favorite authors.

Does the name you chose fit with your chosen genre– A name like Sly Nyx will be more widely accepted amongst Paranormal Romance, and Fantasy readers than Historical fiction.

Can be a variation of your real name– If you aren’t feeling particularly creative or have a name “issue” as mentioned above, it is perfectly okay to shorten your name how you see fit. It will also make filing your taxes easier since it is still technically your legal name.  Example, Elizabeth Marie Johnson could become Eliza Mar or E.M. Johns.

Position on Brick & Mortar Shelves- A much-overlooked factor in choosing a pen name. Depending on the number of items in stock a name towards the end of the alphabet like S-Z is more likely to fall on bottom shelves and away from the valuable eye-level shelf space key to grabbing reader’s attention.

Need a little help coming up with a name? Check out these fun pen name generators!

Pseudonym Generator

Reedsy Pen Name Generator

Kindlepreneur Pen Name Generator

NaNoWriMo Day 28

Community is Key

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Day 28 of NaNoWriMawesomeness! I was able to sit down and attempt to write for most of the day. I did more planning than writing to begin with. really hammering in my plot goals for each arc so I could get to the fun part of filling in the gaps. Again I cannot express the importance of having a solid group of writing friends. Even when I feel like I couldn’t possible write that day or even week, my group is there to cheer me on. While I have abandoned reaching a second 50K draft for NaNoWriMo, I haven’t given up completely on writing for the remaining days. I set a new goal of 15K words for the next couple of days and I am proud to say its looking to be quite possible.

 

Total Words By End of Day

11,411

NaNoWriMo Day 22

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It’s so close I can smell it! I’m not just talking about the yummy Thanksgiving Meal I’ll be enjoying later today. Just over one week until the end of National Novel Writing Month! If you haven’t reached the 50K word goal yet, I encourage you to keep pushing. Even if you don’t quite make it or are far from that mark. You deserve a round of applause just for trying your best to get there. NaNoWriMo is definitely a challenge where participation awards are just as valuable. How many times as writers have we heard from friends and strangers “I wish I could write a novel” but they’ve never actually tried? So many I wish I got paid every time. So bust out that laptop, tablet, notebook, pen, and paper and get to writing!

NaNoWriMo Day 21

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I must admit I am distracted by the upcoming holiday. I myself am only doing the minimal amount of cooking required because of a much-appreciated invite to a friend’s dinner. Still, I managed to get in some decent writing time today. Well, writing is a bit of a stretch. I mostly sat in front of my computer staring at a blank screen and trying to Jedi mind trick myself back into binge writing mode. Maybe I’ll just enjoy a holiday break and pick things back up in a couple of days.

NaNoWriMo Day 20

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Feeling like the little engine that just couldn’t. That about sums up my feelings so far in the second half of my NaNoWriMo journey. Either way, I am still sitting in front of my laptop and doing my best to put up at least a couple hundred words a day. Even if I am nowhere near the on par total for the day.

NaNoWriMo Day 19

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Started on my next first draft and let’s just say it hasn’t been smooth sailing. I guess I expended all my binge writing capital in the first half of the month. I’m not complaining. I just hate when I feel super excited about a new project or idea but my brain and body just won’t talk to each other to make my dream a reality. Not to mention, my family is more demanding of my time after being basically ignored so far this month. Today was mildly productive but I didn’t get anywhere near the almost 5k words a day I need to finish another 50K by the end of this month. I look forward to future write-ins this week to help me get back on track and knocking out those word count goals once again.

Total Words By End of Day

4,107

NaNoWriMo Week 3 Wrap Up

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Thanksgiving is coming up fast and NaNoWriMo is officially in its second half! I had a swell time busting out the first draft of Ferocious and I can’t wait for the editing period to start. I like to take at least a week break from my first draft to clear my head and get a real fresh look at my draft for editing. Although it’s tempting to start on it right away and make a push for a New Year release. I know that for the sake of my readers I need to take this seriously and put forward my best work. Even if it takes longer than my excitement deems necessary. With that being said, Ferocious is the first book in a new series so I have plenty of storylines left to keep me churning out words for the rest of NaNoWriMo and beyond. Will I make it to another 50K in the next half of the month? Keep checking in to find out!

NaNoWriMo Day 16

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Huzzah! I’ve done it! I reached my 50K goal and finished the first draft of my NaNoNovel. So what’s next for Stella Williams’ great masterpiece? A crap load of editing! I know you were hoping I’d say a brilliant new release but I’m going to take some time and let this one sit for awhile. Besides I still have tons of red carpet to roll out for my the last novel in my Maura’s Men Series. I, of course, can’t leave you hanging with no new information about my NaNoNovel so I will at least tell you the official title is now Ferocious. I know that have anything to do with the working title of BGM or perhaps it does…

While you anxiously await more info about Ferocious, there is plenty of time for you to get acquainted with Maura’s Men.

Xander’s Claim

Claude’s Conquest

Shane’s Redemption

 

NaNoWriMo Day 12

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Today I was too busy with life to get much writing done. Barely twenty words were written for my NaNo Novel. My brain needed a break after binge writing for the last two weeks and dealing with a half a day without glasses. Hopefully, I will be back on track for the Local Write-In tomorrow.

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