Apr 14, 2010

Author Tinisha Nicole Johnson on Life in the First Draft

Life in the first draft can be exciting and fun, but for others, I can understand how it can be a drag. With five published books so far under my belt as of this posting, I’ve found that I pay more attention to the overall story while writing the first draft.

Once I get a story in mind, I write and I write, until I the ending is complete. I will usually write on a consistent and fast pace basis. I once heard that a writer should write for the wastebasket. I love that phrase. It basically means that you write from your heart. Don’t pay attention if others will like it, or what they may think of it. Write whatever you want to write, but write the best you can.

After you’ve finished writing your complete project, then go back over and critique it then. The analogy behind this is that you will have more fun and passion for what you write about if you write for the wastebasket.

I like to write in the mornings, because my mind is fresh and my house is quiet. I’ll spend anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours writing depending on what project I’m working on. There are times I don’t feel like writing, although I do love writing in general. It’s sort of ironic. It doesn’t happen often, but at the times I do feel like that, I’ll set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour, and I’ll make myself write for that time period. I have found afterwards that I wrote quite a bit, and it keeps me on schedule.

My long-term goal is to get to page 300 if I’m writing a book, or close enough to it. My daily or short-term goal is to write for at least 1 hour Monday-Friday. After I get close to my specific page number, then I go back to page one and pay more attention to flow, style, sentence structure, and use of words and tone. With each book written, I’ve learned to write faster.

With the first draft, I do capture some details on a separate page along the way. If I don’t capture those details on another page that I can reference to, I’ve found myself in the middle of writing my book wondering if ‘Character - John’ had dark brown hair or medium brown hair earlier in the book.

I know some authors like to begin their stories without an outline of some sort. I did that with my first book and I vowed not to ever do that again. So, before I even write the first word to my draft, I make an outline. It’s not a very structured outline, it’s more of 1-page description of the overall story, similar to a synopsis.


Tinisha Nicole Johnson is an author, writer, and poet. She resides in Denver, Colorado with her two children. Besides writing, Tinisha also hosts political and sports teleconferences as a profession. To date, Tinisha has written five books. She is also co-founder of Authors Supporting Authors (ASA) a non-profit group that provides support to other authors and promotes literacy. You can visit Tinisha’s website at:

You can visit Tinisha at www.tinishanicolejohnson.com

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