Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finishing the First Draft of Your Novel: What to Expect

Okay.... I don't have children as yet, but finishing a draft of your novel (particularly the first one) is the closest I can imagine what giving birth must feel like.

Maybe I'm waaaaay off (and please feel free to correct me!), but here is why:

You carry this "child" around for months, maybe even years like me. You nurture it, feed it, wake up in the middle of the night with cravings (to write) related to it, research all about it because you need to make sure it arrives healthy and strong... And then all of a sudden, it's out and you need to care for it and raise it, and make it grow, turn it into something special that can one day stand on its own.

The range of emotions I've gone through in the past week and a half?

Here they are, IN ORDER:

1. Joy (it's done!)
2. Disbelief (it's done???)
3. Giddiness (I wrote an actual book... a WHOLE book...with chapters!)
4. Doubt (what if no one wants to read it? What if it sucks? Oh my God, it sucks!)
5. Motivation (No, I did this, I stuck with it this far... I can do ANYTHING!)
6. Stress (have you SEEN the querying process... there's NO way I can do this!)
7. Ambitious (I need to start on the sequel... like NOW)
8. Anxious (leave it alone... it has to rest... but it needs major editing! Major re-writing! No... MUST... LET...IT...REST!)
9. Sadness (what do I do now that's it's done... it's like a part of me is missing... I feel so alone...)
10. Overwhelmed (in both a good way AND bad - it IS done, now it's time to keep moving forward)

Um... yeah... so that's what my last few days have been like. One big roller coaster... can you imagine what the actual publishing process will be like (I know many of you are already there, and I'd love hear your stories)? I hope I get that far to find out!

Have you ever gone through this? With writing, finishing or starting your first drafts or anything else? Please share!

39 comments:

Dominique said...

Writing the beginning of a first draft always feels great, because I'm creating from scratch again. Love that. Finishing always feels a little weird. "I can't believe it's over!" I can't even think about publishing. Congrats on finishing your first draft.

Julie Musil said...

Congratulations! That is so awesome. Now you have something to work with in revisions. What an amazing accomplishment.

I've felt every single one of those emotions, but I never thought of it as having kids. I suppose yes, those emotions are parallel!

Now if only we could get our manuscripts into good colleges/agents and married to awesome spouses/publishers.

The Happy Whisk said...

Fantastic job. I'm so happy for you. How will you celebrate? I usually take the next day off and do ANYTHING I want. Then the next day, it's back to work.

Congrats, again. You Rock.

Shallee said...

Yup, that just about sums it up. :) I'm usually also excited to jump into revisions.

Congrats on finishing the first draft! That's a huge accomplishment.

Saumya said...

Congratulations!!! It takes a lot to finish a book and I can't imagine having all of those emotions simmering around. We are all behind you during this publishing process! I hope that you're celebrating...quite an accomplishment :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congrats on finishing that first draft. Now comes the easy part -the rewriting and editing. Honestly, after the story has been spilled out, its easier to plug the gaps and the loopholes.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

CONGRATS!! Finishing the first draft is a huge hurdle and you nailed the reactions:) Now that you've got the majority of the content decided on, you can get to the task of rereading and revising!!

Joanne said...

While I'm waiting for the draft to sit and simmer for awhile before revising, I keep busy with smaller writing tasks. I seriously clean out my Word files that accumulated while writing the manuscript, organize them, maybe do a little more research, write blog posts, that sort of thing. It's a good time to organize and prepare for the next step ... Enjoy :)

Jamie Grey said...

Congrats on finishing! It totally is like a child, isn't it? I know I freak out constantly that it won't be good enough, or that the other books won't like it :)

I finished my draft last fall and I'm in the editing mode right now myself. And ugh! I much prefer first drafts :) But there's something about twisting those words into something readable that's kinda satisfying too!

Justine Dell said...

I think every aspect of writing has a million emotions. No matter where you are in the process, there's bound to be one a gazillion emotions hammering you, and not everyone's will be the same.

CONGRATS on finishing that first book!!!!

~JD

Colene Murphy said...

Hurray!! But yes, it is a crazy roller coaster! Embrace the ride!

notesfromnadir said...

I think I wrote this!:) Actually, my 2 favorite words are: THE END! I really like typing those for some reason, even if it's only a short story.

Free advice: LET IT SIT! I know you want to start those rewrites, but for now it should sit. & it's not a silly idea to either outline or just dive into your next project.

Tara said...

Don't worry - once you are deep into Query Revision Hell, the whole - OMG, it sucks will come back *sigh*. Why any of of do this is beyond me...

Thanks for stopping by my place :)

Taryn Tyler said...

I think you've pretty much nailed it. Went through that a couple months ago. Now I'm going through it again in the revision process. *sigh* but the end product shall be worth it.

Wannabe Writer said...

You did forget to mention labor! When you get to that point where you can't incubate any longer. You just have to push and push, no matter how much it hurts, to get to the final product.

I think I'm in the middle of that stage right now. I can't wait for the euphoric nervousness stage.

Talli Roland said...

Massive congrats on finishing!

I used to go through the range of emotions. Now, I've become sort of accustomed to the process and usually the first emotions I feel are doubt and anxiety!

alexia said...

First, congrats on finishing! That is an amazing accomplishment!

I will say that literal childbirth is more excruciating physically, but you are right that there are so many mental and emotional parallels. I go back and forth between thinking my book sucks and thinking its amazing. I have heard so many people that adhere to the 6 week 'breather' before editing, which I fully plan on doing for the next book.

As for querying, yes it is tough, but you can do it! Research the heck out it (I see you already know of Query Shark). Play around with drafting some query letters and making a list of agents to query. This will keep you busy while you let your book sit.

Glynis said...

Congratulations and good luck for the future!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Congratulations!

i haven't got kids yet, but I imagine the same as you. For now, my books are my babies. each one's been a joyful, painful, unbelievable experience. Then the pain went away and i started again. LOL.

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh I am so happy to read your news!!! Let that baby rest awhile and read other stuff while you do. That's what I'm doing, reading two books on craft and a great fiction book.

Holly Ruggiero said...

Oh yeah, it’s a great feeling and a rollercoaster of emotions, then comes the revision….

Congrats!

Plamena Schmidt said...

Wow, everything you said, almost to the word, I've felt like that. Isn't that weird? So many different people, but we feel so similarly about the writing process?

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hey, how did you find it?

Melissa Gill said...

Yep, this is pretty much me on a daily basis, vacillating between doubt, hope, confidence, depression, anxiety, enthusiasm.

Áine Tierney said...

I'm almost finished a first draft and can completely relate to all the doubts. As regards writing, lack of confidence is my biggest downfall. So, hopefully I'll feel that heady mix of emotions you describe in the coming weeks. :-) Best of luck with the next stage.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

You're so cute! I know what you mean. But rather than carrying it around for months, it feels like years if you want to include the editing process as well besides the creation. Thanks for visiting my blog!!!

~Elizabeth :)

Sheri Doyle said...

Congratulations on finishing your first draft! Good luck with the revision process. Hope the 'baby' doesn't keep you up at night like mine has.;)

Anna Zagar said...

The "leave the freaking thing alone" one is what always gets me. Every. Single. Time. But it really is better to walk away for a month. At least, that's what I've heard. :)

Hannah Kincade said...

oooh, I'm soooo close it hurts. I will do it and then I'll go through all of those steps.

Lydia K said...

Yes, it's exhilarating...and kinda scary!

Melissa said...

When I finished my first first draft I was ecstatically happy....for about fifteen minutes and then I felt sooooo empty. It was like a minor case of PPD

Jai Joshi said...

A lot of people liken writing novels to having children so you're not far off at all.

The whole process is a creative labour.

Jai

MT said...

I actually love the "let it rest" part, because it's tremendously fun to come back, polish, and see it with new eyes!

Ann said...

Congratulations on finishing a book with chapters. Sounds like a typical range of emotions to me. Good luck with the next stage.

Janet Johnson said...

Definitely like having children. And congratulations on finishing! A totally huge accomplishment. :)

The Happy Whisk said...

I love putting my manuscript aside, then going to work on something else, and then later going back to my first project. It's like a little gift and sometimes, I even forget a scene or a funny line and I get to discover it all over again. Great fun. Great fun.

L'Aussie said...

Massive congratulations! A great accomplishment! Now let it rest before you attack it again! Maybe start your next book...

Thanks for popping by and following. I'm not sure if you commented on the first Pub Party post?? Don't forget to do so to be in the running for the prizes!

Denise :)

A Serenade for Solitude said...

Wow. How amazing these feelings sound. I really appreciate this post as it excites me for the ways I might feel when I finish my entire book!

I'm really interested in following your process! Thanks for coming by my blog! :)

Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom) said...

Lol, I've heard of the 5 stages of grief, but not the 10 stages of finishing a book :P

jbchicoine said...

I'm in the tail-end of querying stage of the cycle, and I can tell you that it just keeps repeating. Just the same, I don't know if I'll ever get used to the roller coaster ride...