The other day I wrote 2000 words of my ms. It was the first time I’d worked on my novel in about six months. I always had excuses. Exchange, work, family life, uni, etc. Really it was procrastination.
I’m one of those people who has always been a bit of a perfectionist. I have to write in a linear fashion and agonise on getting every passage right. Savvy internet novelist’s such as Kate Elliot, Isobelle Carmody and Jim Hines kept repeating how much a first draft was always crap. Always. No matter how talented one was or how published. How much you should just go, go, go without any consideration of the nicities.
I guess I never really believed them until author Judith Tarr started mentoring my own ms and I realised how much I was writing less of a complete novel on my first attempt and more of an extremely detailed chapter summary. It killed me to hear from Judith that this was the truth. “Oh my God, you mean even when I get to 80 000 plus words I’m not done yet,” I asked in my novel writing naivity.
The truth is, even when I write that first guaranteed to be terrible draft, I will have to fix things, I will have to fill in the gaps, show and not tell. I will have to write four or more drafts. At least. And that’s before I even get to editing.
So here’s a tip you’ll hear from many authors and I now realise is absolutely necessary to finishing something. Write the entire damn thing out. Don’t stop for anything. Just get it down on paper/in your computer.
Trust me on this one. I’ve learnt this the hard way.