I have a confession to make: I spent 15 years writing my first novel. I say first, but right now it’s my only novel because I spent the last 15 years writing it. Fifteen years!

Sure, I’m proud that I finally finished it. But I’m not proud it took that long. So I’m going to share the advice I should have taken about 12 years earlier than I did.

First, let me tell you about the mistake I made.

My novel started out as a short story in a fiction class at The University of Florida. Before I even finished that first draft, I knew these characters had a bigger story to tell.

A few years later, I decided it was finally time to turn their story into the novel it wanted to be.

I started out on the right track—inspired by the NANOWRIMO movement, I bought a book called “Book In A Month.” Just like the title says, the book gives you a ‘fool proof’ way to write a book in a month. Of course, it took me about a month to do each one of the ‘days,’ but it helped shape my characters and outline the story, giving me a bit of a roadmap.

But that’s where I got stuck in a writing roundabout.

I wrote the first 75 pages, and then I took them to a writing workshop. I got some great feedback and re-wrote those 75 pages. Then I took the new 75 pages back to another writing workshop. I got more great feedback, so I re-wrote them again. And again. And again. And again.

Eventually, I realized I was never going to finish if I kept going back to the beginning. I needed to move on and write forward.

I made a deal with myself that day. I was going to finish first, then go back to edit. I didn’t even stop to look for typos, I just kept writing. It was the summer of 2014 and I gave myself a deadline of the end of that year. And on December 23, 2014, I finished the first draft. Of course, it took another two years of revisions and re-writing before I was happy enough to start sending it to agents—but I never would have gotten there if I had kept going back to the beginning.

So take it from me. Finish first, then edit. And then edit again. But more on that later.

About thishammer

Alison Hammer is an advertising writer/Creative Director and an author currently seeking agent representation. She has lived in 9 cities, studied at 2 universities and 1 “Circus”, worked at 8 ad agencies, sailed on The Rock Boat 15 times and watched over 120 Gator football games (including 2 national championships). She loves words and the challenge of bringing them together to inspire, to sell products and make people feel something. She has experience writing in every medium for clients ranging from telecom and retail to the Military and hotels.
This entry was posted in Editing, Fiction, First Drafts. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to FINISH FIRST.

  1. Leslie says:

    Really enjoying your blog. So interesting and entertaining. Go for it Ali!!!!


  2. Pingback: RING IN THE NEW BOOK! | @ThisHammer

  3. Pingback: I WROTE A BOOK—NOW WHAT? PART TWO: EDITING | @ThisHammer

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