When you get sick of a first draft

I’ve written about five-ish novels. I say five-“ish” because there were a couple more, but I’ve decided not to count them. Also because my current WIP, Wanderland (an Alice in Wonderland retellingis not quite finished.

Of those five, three were written in a month, during either NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo. One was written in two months.

And the one I’m writing now? Wanderland? It’s been two months now. It’s at about 70k. And I’m getting sick of it.

I think part of it is my lack of attention span. A month is a good length for me to focus on something – I can sit down every day and still be excited about it. But for me, at least, the novelty of a first draft wears off once you get past two months.


So how do you get yourself out of that slump?

Other people might call it writer’s block. I call it being bored with a story. And it’s not necessarily because the story itself doesn’t excite me – it does. How can you write about places with names like “Zonsondergang” and get bored? It’s more to do with the fact that I’ve been trying to force the writing, and that just doesn’t work.

There is a balance, of course. Sooner or later you’re going to have to go back to the first draft – using writer’s block as an excuse doesn’t help, because I’ve found that the best way to get OUT of that is to keep writing.

Or to write from another section. But I don’t use that one very often because my writing process is very linear.


I also think that part of it is whether you’re a plotter or a pantser.

Usually, I’m a plotter. This time around I’ve tried pantsing and it just doesn’t work for me. I’m not one to jump right into the story without knowing where I’m going.


I think the main thing to remember, though, is that unless you’re on a deadline, taking your time with a first draft isn’t a bad thing. Sure, it might be more painless to write it quickly, because let’s face it – first drafts are going to be awful no matter HOW quickly you write them. I love NaNoWriMo because it allows me to get through that stage really quickly.

This, though…this is going to be a long novel. Probably about 80 or 90,000 words the way it’s going (I might do a follow-up post to this, entitled “how not to cry when you think about rewriting your novel”).

So in summary, if you’re getting sick of your first draft:

1) Put it aside for a short time and come back to it. But don’t wait too long or you’ll never get back into it.

2) Figure out which method of writing works best for you – are you a plotter or a pantser? A bit of both? Try it different ways.

3) Don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s taking longer than you thought! Every WIP has different challenges, and your own circumstances are going to be different as well.

4) Have fun! I love writing first drafts for the most part, because I don’t have to worry about the words – I just have to get it all out. Which is another point – don’t censor yourself for first drafts or worry that it’s awful.


Are any of you working on first drafts? Are you as sick of yours as I am? (Though I’m steadily warming up to it again!)

book balancingEmily’s first draft is suddenly looking a lot more appealing as an alternative to studying for her yearly exams. Although English is over, so that’s a relief. She’s slightly addicted to writing first drafts, because they’re the fun part, and is constantly abandoning the poor things, instead pursuing Shiny New Ideas.

But she’s definitely going to rewrite one of last year’s WIPs after she finished this dratted Alice in Wonderland retelling. Which is actually a lot of fun.


  1. I love the title of your wip, Em! This post rang true for me, and I think it’s one of the reasons I draft so quickly. So I can get it all out while the excitement is still fresh. I’ve never taken longer than 10 weeks to draft and the longest one — yes I was getting sick of it. Keep at it though. You’re almost there!



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