Get The Draft Done with Charles F. French

by Exsanguine Hart

You’ve done it. You’ve decided to be a writer. An aspiring writer. And that’s the first thing stopping you from getting your draft done. You are a writer. You don’t aspire, you write. A few things may still stand in your way: writers’ block, doubt, and time, but all of them are manageable. These obstacles were explained at the June WCYR event led by Charles F. French, a speculative writer and English professor.

Writers’ block and doubt generally go together. The former is caused by stress and fear, while the latter can be a result of self-doubt and lack of support for your work. An effective way to combat stress is deep breathing. Try to breathe in slowly, expanding your diaphragm and stomach, instead of lifting your shoulders. Hold your breath for a bit, then slowly breathe out. Doing this helps relax your body and gets you into a good headspace for writing. Next, try a few writing exercises, such as freewriting, which allows you to shake off doubt and perfectionism because there are no boundaries or expectations. Set a timer, for a minute or maybe five, and write whatever comes to mind. The goal is to avoid mulling over word choice or grammar to generate a burst of ideas.

How does all this apply to finishing your first draft? What if you’ve beat your writers’ block and your self-doubt, only to realize that you don’t have any time to write? Time can’t magically materialize. What you can do is increase your efficiency. While the best method is different for every writer, Charles suggests committing to a writing schedule, aiming to increase your daily word count over time, and experimenting with different settings, to find the best time and place to foster your productivity and creativity. Finally, to get to the end of your draft, you need to stop going back and revising every second sentence and just move forward to crafting the next scene or chapter. That’s the only way you’ll begin to see the finish line for your first draft. Don’t forget to treat yourself when you get there!

Charles F. French can be found on Twitter @WriterCharlesFFrench

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