Behind the Scenes of a First Draft

A Look Inside the Mind of a Writer

Or, at least, this writer 🙂 I can’t vouch for any others.

Just for fun, I thought I’d share some of what goes on in my head during the writing of a first draft*. As you’ll very quickly see, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with first drafts.

0 Words Written
Fresh page! New book! I can do anything I want! Oh wait. I can do anything. What should I do? Eek! This is slightly terrifying. And exciting. At the same time. So many options. Where do I start?

0 – 5000 words
This is awesome! So many scenes and ideas to write. They just keep coming. I love this book already!

5000 – 10000 words
Um. I’ve got nothing. How on earth did I think this story and the ideas I had were enough to fill a book?!?

10000 – 30000 words
It’s okay. I can do this. Keep writing. Keep moving forward. Keep asking, ‘what happens next?’ and write it. Who cares if I have to delete it later? That’s what the editing stage is for. This is a first draft. It’s supposed to be messy. No, you don’t have to look up that exact word. Or figure out whether butterflies like the cold. JUST WRITE SOMETHING, HANNAH!

30000 words
Yes!!! It’s all coming together. They’re going to love it!

30000 – 40000 words
No one is going to read this trash. Delete. Delete. Delete. I should dump the whole thing and start over. Maybe with a completely different heroine. Or hero. Or story entirely. These plots don’t even make sense, there is no tension whatsoever and … why is that character even there? No one is going to like them. I don’t even like them! This book is a complete disaster.

40000 words
Halfway there! Woohoo!!
Oh wait. Halfway?!? Is that all? I have to write that amount of words all over again just to reach the (absolute) minimum length? I’m so dead.

40000 – 50000 words
What was I thinking? I have no idea how to pull all these scenes together! I just want to read the stupid book, not write it. Why did I think I could do this?
Smile and nod, Hannah. Smile and nod. The book’s going great, for anyone asking…

50000 – 60000 words
This is awesome!! I finally found the heart of the story and the characters have come ALIVE! This is why I write. I can’t WAIT to share this book with everyone!! Eeeee!! Writing is the best!

60000 – 80000 words
Uh oh. That’s all I’ve got. Um…. Guess it’s time to go back to the beginning and read it through and fill in more details? Like, um, what the characters look like. I’ve probably forgotten that again. And the readers probably want to know what’s going on in certain scenes beyond the dialogue. Yep, that’s probably a good idea. Editors and readers like that kind of thing.

80000 – 90000 words
So close! So, so close. But. Still. Not. Done. Arghhhh!!!

90000 – 100000 words
DONE!!! FINISHED!!! Happy, giddy me. I should definitely celebrate with ice-cream. I LOVE this book!!! (Oh wait, I forgot ___, and ___, and ___. Really need to fix those before I let anyone read it. Oh, and ___. And ___. Cringe. But still…)

And there you have it, the real story of my messy brain 😀

Can anyone else here relate? :p

*Yes. I am supposed to be working on a first draft right now. Yes, I am procrastinating. But it’s productive procrastination, right? I mean, you all want to know what goes on inside the mind of an author, right? And, um, writing blog posts and connecting with readers is very important as an author. And, um, yes, I know, I should really get back to writing… I’m going. Really.

10 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes of a First Draft”

    1. You’re welcome 🙂 I can’t wait to share the new series with you all! (And that’s not a ‘smile and nod’ response. Promise. I really am excited!)


  1. Hahaha, this is great. And I thought writing a 5000 word essay was hard…writing 1000000 words is a roller coaster of doubt, excitement, confidence and frustration. But I’m so thankful for your perseverance. I love your books. (And have read the Peverell series so many times but just picked up Heart of a Royal again. 😊). Cheering for you!


    1. Thanks 🙂 And I’d take writing a novel over a 5000 word essay most days. At least I can totally make mine up :p Enjoy Heart of a Royal!


    1. Thanks 🙂 And I’m not sure? If you sign up for the blogs (separate to the newsletter), you should get them sent direct to your email each time I post one. That way you won’t miss out 🙂


  2. That’s so funny!! And many of those same kinds of thoughts come to me as a writer, too, though I’m not sure if they’re in that order.

    “I have to write that amount of words all over again just to reach the (absolute) minimum length?” This is why I independently publish so that there is no minimum length. 😉 I just have to vent about traditional publishers for a moment: readers’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter with all the short-form videos and tweets available. I know there are some genres that really require more than 80,000 words to set up the world-building and include intricate plots, etc. But so many stories could be condensed to just what is necessary for the main character! Okay, rant over. Getting back to my writing, too.
    Congrats on the new story!


    1. Thanks Lila 🙂 I have a feeling it’s likely the same kind of thought pattern for a lot of writers :p We’re a funny bunch. And, for the record, the word count is my own goal I set rather than the publishers. I like to read books around that length, so it’s what I naturally write. I love working with traditional publishers, but can understand how some writers might find that limiting to their work. Guess it comes down to personality 🙂 Happy writing!


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