I've started a new project, and every time, it amazes me how it always feels scary. Overwhelming. Impossible even. I don't even know how many books I've written, published and unpublished, and still, here I am, doubting myself up, down and sideways.
Yes, it's geared toward writing screenplays, but it easily transfers to writing novels as well. Want to know what makes a good catalyst moment? Want to know what strategies to use when it's time to give your readers a breather, and where that should happen? I could go on and on, but I won't. It's good. Period.
As I'm writing this draft, I'm reading the book every night, based on where I'm at with the draft, and keeping in mind what my purpose is for the very section I'm writing. It's been incredibly helpful.
Anyway, back to why I'm doing this blog post. :) I was thinking about the things that help me when I'm drafting a story, that I want to remember, and thought I'd share them. So here is my "Things to Remember When Writing a First Draft List," in no particular order.
1) Sometimes it is fun and sometimes it is not. I think we want it to be fun all the time, but it just won't be. There will always be hard parts. Fight your way through them, and don't let them win.
2) Free writing in a different document is okay, to sort out thoughts, to ask yourself questions, whatever. Any writing is helpful writing, even if it doesn't necessarily add to the word count.
3) Some days, the hardest part is opening the document. So make it as easy as possible, by leaving off in an exciting spot and leaving yourself notes as to what you envision happening next. It's so much easier to reenter with little notes than simply a blank page.
4) Doubt is your biggest enemy. It will sneak up on you when you least expect it. It till make you cranky as you battle it, day after day after day.
I try very hard to think of the story as something I'm writing just for me. It may be good, it may be bad, it doesn't matter, I'm the only one who will read it and I have to keep writing because I want to see how it turns out. I really think it's when we imagine other people reading it, thinking about whether there's a place in the market for it or not, those kinds of things, that's when we find ourselves getting anxious. The first draft is not the time to worry about any of that, and as much as we can, we need to rid ourselves of those thoughts somehow.
Some days, if the doubt is really, really bad, I allow myself a break. And that means a break from all things publishing-related. I go see a movie or I go somewhere with my family. At that point, I need to get "out of my head" and gain some perspective. It's just a book!!
5) Be kind to yourself. If a little chocolate or some delicious caffeinated drink makes opening the document easier, why not? Once you get going, get in the zone, a lot of times, the need to munch or sip or whatever falls away.
6) Every little bit helps. Leave the document open and when there's time, sit down and work for 15 minutes. A big chunk of time may be hard some days, and don't let that keep you from getting in some words.
7) It doesn't have to be perfect. Let's repeat that, shall we?
8) It doesn't have to be perfect!!!
I'm curious, what's on your "Things to Remember when Writing a First Draft" list??