Finished my first draft and feeling flat.

When I tentatively posted in May, declaring my intention to try and write a novel, I never quite believed that I could.

But, as the weeks have flown by, my word count has risen, along with my confidence, and today I have reached the end of my first draft.

On Monday, when I realised I would finish this week, this is how I thought I would feel.




Now I have put my final full stop, this is how I actually feel.




Why? I’m not sure. I think, being a new writer, I am feeling quite overwhelmed at what comes next. You know, the E word.  Edit, edit, edit, screams every blog I read. How, how, how? I want to scream back.

Any tips will be gratefully received.




28 thoughts on “Finished my first draft and feeling flat.

  1. Don’t feel overwhelmed. You’ve done the hardest bit already. I would just read through your first draft now, fleshing out here and there, cutting things you don’t need. It’s my favourite stage of the writing process. Everyone has their own way of writing and editing, but I like to read the whole thing aloud. Anything that needs changing seems to jump out at me that way. Good luck. You should feel elated. It’s a huge achievement 🙂

      • Here’s what I’ve learned: Editing is fun. Really fixing my book was not. By fixing, I mean looking at all my beautiful scenes and checking to see that they are meaningful to the plot; reviewing my characters to be sure they are strong and sympathetic; identifying coincidences, events I needed to move the action forward that were unlikely to have happened; and so many important things that I had lost sight of as I worked on chapter after chapter. I had to step back and thing about my whole book.

        The very best way I know to do that is to write a synopsis. You’ll have to do it anyway, and you might as well do it now, because you’ll find all the disconnects before you start submitting queries to agents. You can Google “writing a synopsis,” but I would also recommend you pick up a book like The First Fifty Pages or Hooked. As many people do, I wrote my book without an outline, and although I had read many books about writing fiction, they weren’t very meaningful until I had actually completed my book. That’s when I figured out that I had somehow managed to misunderstand–or not understand at all–my story goal, theme, plot points, etc. Those aren’t just buzzwords. They make your book work.

        In the event you already know that, kudos to you. My two writer friends and I didn’t, and it just about killed us when we had to write a synopsis for a conference we were attending. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent, individually and together, stripping our books to the barest bones and finding a skeleton that couldn’t support the flesh. Incidentally, having someone else read your synopsis–if not your book–can be a real eye-opener.

        Good luck! It’s true you have done the hardest part. Now finish the job!

  2. I’ve never written a novel but I think you should leave it a few days before starting the editing process. And reward yourself with a big bar of chocolate or something 🙂

  3. Keep it up! Sometimes the best thing to do is set aside your draft for a while, take up another project, and come back to it later.

  4. Congratulations first off! It is a huge accomplishment and you should be feeling like your first picture of Snoopy.
    1. Yes read aloud! You will find what words flow and what don’t and what doesn’t make sense.

    2.Not only spell-check automatically but go through it yourself. Although spelling isn’t focused on in school anymore and with autocheck people think they are safe, I have been told that nothing spells amateur more than misspelled words in the first pages sent to an agent for query.
    This certainly is not a concern when throwing the words on paper for the first draft, but subsequently, attention must be paid, I believe.

    3. Look for unnecessary words (my biggest problem), think about the context of the sentence- does it REALLY need that adverb or would one strong verb do? Eg:’John walked quickly to the door’, could read: John rushed to the door.’

    4. Perhaps more helpful, Here is an excerpt from Meg Gardiner’s blog ( on how she approaches revision:
    “I can hear some of you shouting, Rewrite? Don’t make me. Stab me with a fondue fork instead. Repeatedly. Please. But I mean it: Joy. As I recently heard Ken Follett explain, revising means making a book better-and who wouldn’t want the chance to make something better?
    And, to be serious, I have a method. Tackle the big issues first.
    This is a technique I picked up from Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing, and it has turned my editing inside out. It’s saved me months of wasted work. Stein calls it triage: Fix the life-and-death issues in a manuscript first. Is the conflict stark enough? Is the protagonist strong enough? Does he or she face a worthy antagonist? In other words, when rewriting, don’t simply start at page one and go through the manuscript fixing every problem as you spot it. It’s counterproductive to spend a morning fussing over sentence structure if the entire scene needs to be cut.
    So I identify all the triage issues and outline a plan to address them. Then I return to my miserable first draft. I attack those fat, introspective scenes. I build in unexpected twists. I obstruct the protagonist’s path. Throw down impediments that are by turns physical and psychological, accidental and deliberate. Breakdowns. A monkeywrench. A landslide-literal or emotional. I cut endless swaths of verbiage, like so much kudzu. It’s gratifying.
    Admittedly, revision isn’t all fun. I’ll wake up worrying that I’ve done insufficient research. Maybe some howlers have slipped through. (Anybody seen Lord of War? An Interpol agent strafes Nicolas Cage from a fighter jet. That kind of howler.) So I hit the reference books, and contact some experts, and revise again. And I have a fail-safe plan: write a rip-roaring story, so that if all else fails readers will miss any mistakes. Put the pedal down and nobody can see the errors as they blast through the novel.

    5. (from Agent Janet Reid’s blog):
    “Take out take out the stuff that doesn’t belong. Generally that will be anything that doesn’t move the plot forward or develop character (Kurt Vonnegut’s rule).
    This is where the “rules” will become clear. Does someone waking up move the plot forward or develop character? If it does in your book, break the rule. If it doesn’t you follow the rule. But you follow the rule cause it works here, not cause it’s a rule.
    Rules are generally to help people look for places that are obvious problems to a more experienced writer. Once you’ve written a couple novels, you’ve learned some stuff about how to do it.
    There’s one thing your opening pages have to do: entice me to read on. If you can do that with backstory, weather, driving, or waking up, no problem. If you can’t, you’re in darn good company and you’ll chop that part out before I ever see it.”

    6. Best advice: Give Yourself Permission to Suck (bill cameron)

    Whew! Sorry that was long

  5. Congratulations on your first draft! I’ve never written a novel so can’t help with novel-editing exactly, but I do a lot of writing for my job and have found that it’s helpful to read it backwards when looking for spelling errors/sentences that don’t flow/etc. (Obviously not backwards word for word–start with the last paragraph and move your way up.)

    Also, you might want to consider hiring a freelance editor. We’ve used them a lot and you can find reasonably priced editors with a quick turnaround and a super sharp eye.

  6. Some great advice above. I just wanted to say I so understand your feelings. I dreaded the editing but I now love it. After all you have gotten it all out which is like a massive prolonged birth ( you could have post natal-manuscript depression LOL). Be kind to yourself, pat your self on the back and trust me the next bit is even more fun!!

  7. Congratulations Louise, that is a wonderful achievement 🙂
    Draliman is right. Put it away for a few days. Then, use the built in text to speech software that comes with Word or whatever program you use. If you read it through yourself, you’ll see what you meant to write, rather than what you actually have written. I purchased a program called Natural Reader ( You can get American male or female voices or British male and female voices. I use the British male voice “Graham” or female voice “Hazel.” You can check out all the voices on their website with a sample of your writing. They have a free version with two voices, but of course, the paid versions are much better.
    Beta readers are also a good idea. Choose people you know and trust to read through the MS and let you know if there are any plot gaps or inconsistencies.
    It’s fairly natural I think to feel a little flat — I know I did — but don’t take any notice of that inner voice that tries to tell you it’s rubbish.

  8. Like anything, when you finally end something, you allow yourself to relax. It’s an unconscious reaction where you push on until you finish, and then when you do, it’s overwhelming.

  9. You don’t have to find your fulfillment in writing, but I find after a big project there is a ‘jet lag’, it just takes a few days or weeks to detach from it.

  10. I agree with Amy above me. One thing I learned in my creative writing classes is to print out the entire thing or small bits at a time. Then, sit down, and read it aloud. I don’t know if you already do this or not, but it helps so much. I’ll be reading out loud, and when something sounds off, I know the reader will think so too.

    Congratulations though!

Thanks so much for reading!

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