Zack's Blog

The First Draft

Published 2016-12-03 4 min read

It may comes as no surprise, but every time I sat down to write an update about writing Singular, I decided to write Singular instead. How meta. Anyhow, as I’m drawing near to the end of the process, I can write a little more about this wild journey.

Initially I was going to talk about developing a healthy writing schedule, overcoming writer’s block, and other such obvious topics, but I had a change of heart. Why should I convince you to stick to your writing? Either you want to write or you don’t and some random person on the internet isn’t going to change that.

Personally, I couldn’t wait to write. It was one of those rituals that I didn’t want to skip as it was such a delightful creative outlet for me. I’m generally so trapped in the other side of my brain, that vacationing in the land of creativity was really a delight. That said, there were some times of real struggle, but that came after the first draft. So let’s talk about that instead.

The First Draft

Three Months. That’s how long it took to craft the first draft. Honestly, it was a time of innocent bliss, amazed as I was that I had managed to string together that many words. I had characters, a plot, imaginative environments, and some pretty unique stuff. That’s a story, right?

No, it turns out that a story is much more than that. My first draft was terrible.

In many ways that should come as no surprise. I’m a first time author and there’s really no reason to think I would be intuitively good at this. My education has been entirely in Physics and Math, with only a smattering of general university requirements that Cornell required of me. Though honestly, I have to credit them with hammering into my brain even the modicum of English ability which I may or may not have.

As should be obvious, writing exposed all sorts of self doubt as well. My first draft was so personally discouraging that I had a hard time buckling down to the serious work required to reshape it into something I could feel good about. There were periods of creative depression lasting weeks at a time. It was difficult to sit in front of the computer at times.


The influence of good friends and a certain quotation helped me at the time:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not…It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Ira Glass

I was a beginner and it was my first real story. While I knew my second story would be better, I didn’t want to give up on Singular. I wanted to keep working on it until I felt good about it. All because I believed in the premise of the story.

As I said before, my initial goal was to write a book that I’d enjoy reading. I didn’t want to just do that anymore. I wanted to tell Milo’s story. A very personal story that I cared about quite a bit. Most of all, I didn’t want to screw it up for him. Weird, I know. He’s a fictional character, but after spending this much time in his world, he’s more real than just that to me.

So I did what I had to do. I studied a lot and most of all, wrote a metric ton. Although Singular stands somewhere near seventy-eight thousand words, I’m confident I have written well over twice that in the making of the book. A lot of murdered words, but it was necessary.

Soon, it will be in the hands of the editor, and I’m sure I’ll have more work to do after that, but we’re getting close.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, I really look forward to sharing Singular with you once it’s ready.