Writer in Residence

Finish Your Vomit Draft Now

By Naseem Hrab

After I posted my last entry, I felt like I didn’t spend enough time talking about why it’s so important for you to finish your vomit draft.

How many times have you read a book and thought, “How did this book even get published? I can do better than this schlock.” Maybe you can do better … Maybe you can’t … We really have no idea about what you can and cannot do until you FINISH YOUR MANUSCRIPT.

Think about this: one of the few differences between you and someone who has been published is that they completed their manuscript. That’s all. Yes, you need to be pretty okay at stringing sentences together. Yes, you need to come up with a passable story arc. And yes, you need to be somewhat original. But one of the most important things in the eyes of a publisher is that you can complete your manuscript. And not just once, but over and over and over, draft after draft after draft, without getting bored of working on it, without abandoning it because it’s just not coming together in the way you’d imagined, and without tossing it aside because you just got busy, y’know?

As an aspiring author, you can’t show a publisher a half-finished manuscript. You just can’t. Editors need to know that you can deliver. They need to know that you can commit to keep working on something to make it better. We all have ideas, but ideas are everywhere. I hate to quote some random person I know nothing about (A YOUTUBER, IN FACT. OMG. I’M DYING A BIT INSIDE.), but, well, this quotation speaks to me right now:

“Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters.”

— Casey Neistat

Right now, I want to watch the finale of World of Dance, my sink is filled with dirty dishes and my floor could use a good cleaning. Sure, I could be drinking rosé on a patio right now or hanging out with my friends, but instead of doing any of that … I’m writing. (Well, I’m writing this post and not the draft of Ira 3 I should also be working on, but you get my drift.)

Do whatever it takes to make yourself finish your vomit draft. You’re going to have to make sacrifices and your social life may take a hit. You might have to join a writer’s group or a class, or find some other way to institute deadlines and accountability if your dreams of publishing a book are not enough to motivate you. Do whatever it takes to just finish that draft. If you don’t take this step, you’ll never get a book deal.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Naseem Hrab is a writer, a storyteller and a pretty good friend. Her comedy writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Rumpus. Naseem worked as a librarian for a time and now works in children's publishing. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.