Jun 9, 2010

Writing a First Draft, Torture Anyone? by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Writing a first draft can be one of the hardest tasks in the world. Here's a typical example:

You have a date set to begin to write your story and/or book. At first the date is at least a week off, or maybe even a couple of months, or a year, so all is wonderful. You banter in your head with ideas and brilliant glimpses of insights or descriptions that you will surely incorporate. If well trained in study skills you may have a notebook you keep with you at all times in which you write down some of these extremely amazing thoughts and plots.

Some of us may also be researching similar or identical themes, seeing what others have written along the way. This may mean reading other's books and/or articles and the feelings of being a great researcher, aside from a fiction writer may fill our heads.

Oh, this is a glorious time in the process. I remember researching the concept Enchantment for my first book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy. I was in heaven as I read how the word was used in old Nortic times in Scandinavia. Or was it Norway? Didn't it tie into rain deer somehow? Where are my notes!!!!

Ah, but too soon, the 'enchantment' of this pre first draft process passes and suddenly it is the morning of the day you have to begin your first draft. Oh, no, do I feel a cold coming on? I think I have a dentist's appointment. And it is a root canal. My daughter needs me to babysit and asked me to sleep over. She doesn't have a computer! Darn. And the excuses go on and on.

For most of us these successful excuses take us into many days, maybe months. For some, that first draft never does get written. And all I can say is remember you had some glorious days preparing to write! That isn't the worst thing. After all, we do live some of our lives in anticipation of wonderful things that don't happen.

Actually that was almost the case for Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I'll Tell You Mine...maybe. I had written the first draft of most of the book and then just couldn't proceed. Once the girl had found out family secrets, visiting her aunt, and found out a secret about the boy's family that she had a crush on, the muse in my head went totally silent. I just couldn't get to an ending.

Actually, I had to wait about a year before the ending emerged as naturally as the first part of the book had. What was the difference? Why did it take so long? I'm still not really sure. Maybe I needed time with all those girls I got to know in schools and Girl Scout troops, as we went over The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything). Maybe I just needed time. Or maybe I was just lazy. The point is I didn't panic and I kept believing in myself and my book and the rest is history! Now The Truth Series has two books!


For those of us who must get the first draft written, here is my advice:

  • · Expect garbage and don't evaluate.
  • · Sit down at your computer or put on your dictaphone and start to talk or write.
  • · Don't try to finish sentences. If you switch subjects, let it happen. If a new character or topic emerges let it.
  • · Write for at least 20 minutes or more if you desire.
  • · When you are ready to stop don't throw anything out.
  • · Go to sleep, or eat, etc.
  • · When you are ready to come back to the first draft do so. You can change things around and add stuff. But don't really throw things out. Just save for now.


When you are finally or almost done with your first draft take a break-whether that means an hour, a day, a month or longer.

When you come back NOW you can begin to clean, add, subtract, organize, see what you need to add, etc. I would still recommend saving in a file or word document all you have written, even if you are not using it. After all, you don't know. It may turn out that strange paragraph you wrote really late at night is the perfect opening for your next rough draft!

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Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.

Dr. Barbara is committed to bringing to the world the techniques she develops to help people access their Enchanted Selves. These core principles and techniques have brought insight and inspiration to many. Dr. Holstein believes that no one should be denied hope or a joyful life. Yes, happiness takes work, but no more work than living a life without hope, repeating negative thoughts and habits that lead to a life that feels less than inspiring.


Her book The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy was published in 1997 by Harwood Academic Publishers and is now in its second printing through Brunner-Routledge. This book is Dr. Holstein's pathfinder book where she outlines the best in Positive Psychology treatment techniques, two years before the term was coined!


Her second book Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! received rave reviews as a wonderful inspirational story book with space to journal.


There Comes A Time In Every Woman's Life for DELIGHT is Dr. Holstein's third book. This book takes the reader on a spiritual adventure with Dr. Holstein. Reader's love this book, getting to experience first hand celebrations and adventures that rekindle their own spirit of adventure. In two versions, paperback and a CD-rom version that includes music, art, and Dr. Holstein's voice, either is sure to be a 'Delight.'


Dr. Barbara speaks regularly on radio programs around the country, and appears on television in New York and New Jersey. Many of her inspiring audio shows and podcasts can be found on the web. Her articles and stories appear on the web on hundreds of sites. She also gives lectures, seminars, and tele-classes on happiness. Listen to archives of her e-radio shows, Happiness for Women Only on her website, www.enchantedself.com


Her book, The Truth, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything! is another first in positive psychology. A fictional book, written by a ten year old girl as a diary, Dr. Barbara has been able to imbed lots of positive truths that we all need to remember and live by, regardless of our age.


The girl's edition, titled: The Truth, (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) debuted February 2008 in bookstores nationwide.


Her newest book,is the second in The Truth Series It’s title is: SECRETS: You tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine…maybe!


This book continues the adventures of the ‘girl’ who is now 13.

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