“Finishing” a First Draft

I think I mentioned before that it took years for me to finish my first novel. Because of all the time and effort I was putting into it, I expected there to be a big, celebratory moment: WOOHOO! I finished my first novel!!! I was looking forward to that moment. I figured I’d go out to dinner with friends, maybe have a drink or two, and go on a little commemorative shopping spree.

That didn’t happen, and it was a bit of a letdown.

I didn’t realize that finishing a novel isn’t quite as clear-cut as putting a period and considering it done (It’s alive!). Instead of a woohoo, it was more of a meh. It was done. Kind of. I mean, technically, it was a complete book. It could stand alone as a story. The word count was high enough to consider it a novel.

That didn’t necessarily mean it was done. I could go on writing it forever. A few modifications here, a few edits there. Yes, there was a point when I considered the first draft finished, but it was more a case of good enough than I have perfected my masterpiece!

Now, I think of finishing a piece more as a derivative (sorry, non-math people). If you picture a graph of the quality of the story compared to the amount of work put in, there is a point where putting more work in isn’t going to have that big effect on the quality. It’s only nitpicking. That’s the point I consider the book done. Not when I put a period after the last word of the last chapter.

Of course, I still went out for the dinner and drinks because, hey, why not? The fact that it’s not that Woohoo moment doesn’t make it any less worth celebrating.

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