The Awkward First Draft

I’m uneasy (and grumpy!) because I have NO IDEA what I’m doing now.

I have nearly 50,000 words written in my book. I have 4 scenes left to write. Once those are done, I’ll be in the mysterious frontier of editing a novel.

Which is strange to say, since I used to be an editor myself. But that was nonfiction, textbook-y stuff. Editing a novel, and editing my own work, is an entirely different ordeal.
I’m proud of myself for nearly finishing my book. But, let’s face it, this first draft is not awesome. It needs a lot of work, but I don’t know where or how.

Jacob gave me a pep talk, which was helpful. He’s amazing with computers, but said that some days, his brain’s not 100%, so it’s difficult to solve problems. When he works through those days anyway, he’s much better off when he’s back at 100%, but when he takes a break instead, he’s that much farther behind when he’s back at 100%. The work you do when you don’t feel like working matters.

It helped.

So I’m going to keep going, keep working. I figure this is one of those gates that prevent the 80% of the population that wants to write a book from actually writing one. Getting started was hard. Writing 50,000 words was harder. This unknown, this anxious will-I-really-be-able-to-turn-this-into-something-readable feeling is even harder. But it’ll make me that much stronger, that much of a better writer.

And I suspect even seasoned writers feel this way. I’ve been working on my Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Writing–and many authors seem to describe this agony, this awkward stage of writing. At least, I hope that’s what they’re talking about.

Any advice? What do you do when you have no idea what you’re doing? When you get to the end of the first draft and it’s not exactly sunshine and rainbows?

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