• Author Brittany Leonard

Writer's Block in My First Draft

One of the hardest things about writing is sticking to it, knowing all the while that it's going to change drastically.


I sat down in the summer of 2018 and began writing the first chapter of Element; my first ever book, a YA Graphic Novel! I had been processing the idea and doing relevant research for about six months (see related post here)- I felt like I had enough of an idea about the main character, a clear setting, and a basic plot, and figured it was time to get writing! I remember I spent most of the day in coffee shops and breweries, as I worked at writing a script for the graphic novel.


Eventually, an unnerving thought came to mind:

If I know that what I'm writing now is going to change drastically later, why am I still writing?


A quote that I had read during my months of prior research said:

There's no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting. - Robert Graves

While this quote often keeps me striving forward, at the time it also kept me frozen in place. Part way through my first draft, I stopped writing. At least if I stopped now, I thought, I had something to start me off to practice drawing in my style, and trying out the process of illustrating an entire page.

The Real Writing Process

I probably didn't return to the script until another six months later. Any time I tried, I knew I already wanted to change the beginning, but wasn't sure how. Eventually, my ideas formulated enough that I could go back and write another draft of the first chapter. I was much happier with this second draft, because I knew it was closer to where I wanted to go. I knew if I wasn't sold on the exposition, none of my readers would be either. Plus, I figured, how my story began and who the characters were then would shape the rest of the story.


I'm glad I waited. My main character, Sloan, was no longer rigid, and took on more of a personality. My second main character still needed a lot more development, but at least I was feeling confident about one of them. I added to and tweaked the first two drafts for another six months or so, and also started on the second chapter as well. Throughout all of this time, I continued reading various comics, practicing drawing both on paper and on my iPad on Comic Draw, always considering different pieces of the story that had not yet evolved.


Then at Christmas time of 2019, my writing habits began to really take off! I had been in a bit of a funk prior to the holidays, and when school break came, I decided I would spend those two weeks purposefully: I would try to read, write, do yoga, and draw each day of the break. During the holiday, I spent more time on Pinterest and learned about the Snowflake Method of writing, which was how I noticed my brain seemed to be working (to learn more, see my related post here). I also decided to start learning how to market my book, which has been such a learning curve, but has led to the launch of this website and my Instagram account, and keeps me motivated to continually striving toward my finished project!


With the start of the New Year, I was feeling great about my new habits, but knew that returning to work after the holidays would create another shift in routine - I had to prioritize. Basically, I decided to make yoga (and mental health) my first priority, and then after that to try writing one scene and one blog post each week.


Shoot forward a few weeks to present day, and we are in a unique situation globally. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in all schools being closed for the foreseeable future, and my entire schedule is now wide open.


With this unique situation, I now find myself with too much time to write and not enough creative stamina! I had been feeling frustrated with myself because I have only been able to write for a half hour or hour at a time. However, I find Instagram to be very motivating, and yesterday I found a new account, linked to the photo below that I found inspiration in. I also researched daily word counts of famous writers, and learned that many only write 500-1000 words per day, which is what I have been doing on days when I write - so overall, I guess I'm not doing too badly at this writing thing after all!



Want to know more about me? Click here.

For my first six months of the writing process, check out here.

Curious about Element? Check out its info page here.

For my other WIP, a father-daughter children's book, click here.


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