3 Mistakes Writers Make When Writing Their First Draft

People love to hide their mistakes but as writers we need to talk about them because if you don't know what mistakes you're making you don't know the things you might be doing right now that are keeping you from finishing your novel.

As you all know, writing is a huge time investment and you always want to make the best use of your time. If you set out to write a novel you want to publish and are making one of the mistakes below, you could add weeks, months, or even years of unnecessary revision to the already lengthy writing process.

I hate to waste my time and I would hate it if you're wasting yours. So it’s probably worth a check – are you making one of the mistakes below?

Mistake #1: You don’t refine your story idea

I’ll let you in on a little secret – every story has been written before.

I mean it. Literally, any story you write has a version of that story that exists somewhere else in the world.

Even the most popular stories take ideas and inspiration from the stories and concepts written before them. Don’t believe me? Let’s do a little test:

Can you tell me what popular story involves a group of kids who are locked in an arena and forced to battle each other until only one living kid remains?

The answer that first comes to mind is probably The Hunger Games, a book that came out in 2008. But what I was really describing is a Japanese story called Battle Royale, originally a novel written by Koushun Takai in 1996 that was adapted into a movie in 2000.

Now Suzanne Collin didn’t steal the idea for people battling in arenas from Koushun Takai and Koushun Takai wasn't the first person to invent this concept. Gladiator games started in the Roman Republic – the concept of people fighting to the death in an arena has literally been around for centuries.

So why do hundreds of thousands of new books still come out every year when every story has already been told?

Because people find new and exciting ways to tell the story!

In 2008 Suzanne Collins took the gladiator concept and created an enthralling post-apocalyptic society around it. In 2015 New York Times Best-Selling author Victoria Aveyard took the gladiator concept and gave the fighters superpowers.

So the moral of the story is not put gladiators in your book.

The moral is to make sure you have a unique, interesting, and fresh story idea before you’re 300 pages into a novel people have already read before. You can do that right now with my step-by-step workbook. Find out more here!

Mistake #2: You get stuck and give up

If I had to guess, I would say every writer at some point has gotten stuck and given up on their stories. Even the most successful authors.

Writing is hard and when you’re in the middle of a story and you see no way out, it’s natural to want to quit.

But every story has to start somewhere and you can’t take the steps to make your novel better if you never actually finish it.

One of the best (and incredibly successful) examples of this is the author John Greene. In an interview he wrote:

I have a folder called Follies, which contains an impressive collection of abandoned stories…Something else about my Follies folder: It contains the final drafts of my novels Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. They are follies, too—finished ones.

Whether you’re reading or writing, there is nothing magical about how you get from the middle of a book to the end of one. As Robert Frost put it, ‘The only way out is through.’ So here’s the pep part of my pep talk: Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.” –John Green

A lot of times writers can talk themselves out of finishing a great story because they think the writing process would be a lot easier if it was a story they were actually supposed to finish.

So don’t make this mistake—it’s probably the worst mistake you can make because it stalls your writing career!

Finishing your novel gives you something you can work with, and something that might be the next big thing.

Mistake #3: You try to do it alone

Have you ever heard the phrase “it takes a village to write a novel?”

The first time I heard that phrase it didn’t make sense to me because my writing process always involved me tucked away alone at my computer for weeks and weeks on end.

It wasn’t until I started connecting with other writers and seeking support and encouragement from family and friends that I realized how important community is when you’re taking on the impossible task of writing a book.

Grab the work of fiction nearest to you and turn to the acknowledgements in the back. I used to always skip the acknowledgements because honestly, I didn’t care. The story was over, I got what I paid for.

But now that I’ve gotten a little writing village of my own, I tear through the acknowledgements because I love to see who helped that author achieve his or her dreams.

It takes a village to finish your novel because you need support, guidance, and inspiration from other people to make it through the impossible task.

If you’re writing alone, you’re susceptible to all the doubt, perfectionism, and “give up now!” tendencies all writers have to struggle with.

When you have people in your writing village you have a constant support system that will help you from page 1 to publication.

So are you ready to stop making these mistakes?

Good, because that faster you learn to avoid these mistakes the faster you’ll achieve your writing goals.

My free video training, Your Page-Turning Plot, is designed to help you avoid these mistakes and learn everything you need to get a finished novel in your hands without the pitfalls most writers make.

If you're ready to hold a finished novel in your hands, click here to learn more and get my free video training today!

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Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi is the #1 NYT and International Best-Selling author of book and upcoming movie CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE.