If you’ve read my blog before you may have noticed that I like sharing my methodology for getting things done, with the goal of helping others. So, I’m going to share today the basics of how I got the initial draft of my upcoming novel finished recently. I hope it helps other writers do the same. Writing the first draft of a novel is tough, but you can do it!

Let’s start with this fact. I like using the term “garbage draft.”




This is a term I picked up from author Russell Nohelty. “Garbage draft” is another term for “first draft,” be it of a story, novel, article, school paper, or piece of poetry. The term is meant to remind the author that it’s fine for that initial draft to be terrible. Another term some authors use is “vomit draft.” I don’t care for that visual, but I get what they’re saying. The point of that initial draft is to get your story down. You can, and must, edit it later.

The first, vomit, or garbage draft is an act of discovery.




I mentioned recently that I finished the garbage draft of my upcoming novel, Bodacious Creed and the Jade Lake. I created a basic outline of the story which include the major plot points and figured out, as I went along, what happened between each.

It took me about six months to get this 76,000 word draft done, and I learned so much that I believe the garbage draft of my next book will take a lot less time, maybe three months.

So, that’s what I did, but what I didn’t do is just as important to understand. When I realized what needed to change, I didn’t go back and edit to implement the changes. I simply kept writing with the changes and took notes about them.

If anyone else were to read this draft, they’d be pretty confused. Characters vanish. Others become completely different people. Events get mentioned later that I didn’t write about before.

Here are a few examples. There’s an organization in the book with seven members. Two of them were unnecessary, so I’m cutting them, and if you were to read the book now they would appear to vanish. Two characters start off as of German descent and then become two Mexican Americans with totally different names. Later in the book, I reference an event that James Creed attended, but I didn’t write about that event earlier on.

These are all things I can, and will, fix later. The point is that by not going back and changing them as I worked on the draft, I was able to get the story finished.




Using my Hero’s Journal has been great. This is one of the things that has helped keep my writing on track. It’s split into three acts, and I used Act 1 to write the garbage draft.

Here’s the final page for Act 1, where I wrapped up what I got done.

I highly recommend The Hero’s Journal for anyone working on a major project.






In the last year, I’ve taken two of Russell Nohelty’s online classes, one on novel writing, and one on book marketing. I plan to review both soon for this blog. Even though I had already written several novels, and learned a fair amount about marketing, these courses helped me tremendously.

Go forth and get those drafts done!

“You can make anything by writing.” ― C. S. Lewis