Busy writing today? You’re a lying weasel. You’re out here in electronoland. But far be it from old Blogmeister John to discourage you from visiting us here. And since you’ve come, let me give you a little writing advice.
Let’s say you’ve been writing a scene, doing a little revising–and a little more–and a few more tweaks . . . And you can’t seem to stop. This is your seventy-third draft of Chapter One.
A dark apparition hovers over you, chanting in a voice that sounds like Dick Cheney on meth, “Get it right! It must be perfect before you push on.” You may even be inclined to agree with this evil presence. Hell, you don’t want to look like a moron in the eyes of your mother, your writing group, your lover, your ex-husband or the guy looking over your shoulder in the library?
One’s internal censor speaks with a powerful voice–almost impossible to ignore. Even if I told you this habit was one of the Top Ten book killers in the world, you would insist on one more revision.
Verily, I say unto you: Knock that shit off!
Give that chapter a quick once-over and move on. Plenty of time for revision when the first draft is finished.
I’m not saying yank your sloppiest first draft out of the printer and take it to your writer’s group and listen to their raucous laughter. A little tweaking is fine, but sometime you have to leave that less-than-perfect draft and push on.
Baby steps: Write a sentence or two–anything–crap. Junk it through. You will immediately be struck by the urge to revise. Fight it. You’ve just written crap. No one will ever see it. Your self-worth and your sacred honor as a writer does not hang in the balance. Your old English teacher, Mrs. Dingfobb, is moldering in her grave.
Write some more stuff, maybe a silly little scene of some kind. Nothing at stake. Nothing riding on this being perfect. Don’t revise. Go get some more tea, or your favorite beverage. Take a bike ride. Chill.
Gradually you will develop the habit of writing and moving on–vital to the completion of a novel. When you’re ready, go back to your Big Important Project, and do the same thing. Write a first draft, maybe tweak it just a little, and then leave it alone. On to the next scene.
You may find it helps if you WRITE AT ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED.
Revise later, dude.


2 thoughts on “

  1. Really good advice… and you made me laugh. I really need to do that. I have a first chapter I’ve been working on for WAY too long. Time to get to the rest of the book. I hear NaNoWriMo is a great way to do what you’re suggesting. I’ve never tried it, but I think I’m going to next year.

  2. John, good humor as usual. I’ve followed your advice on many things and my writing has improved considerably. I’m at 40,000 words of a third novel and editing my first to send to an agent. I should have you look at it for money of course, but it will be at least a month before it’s ready.

    This note is for Clark. I’ve written two novels using NaNoWriMo. Well wrote most of the novel. I got the 50,000 done last year, but only 37,000 this year, but I continue working at at least 1000 words a day until it’s done. NaNoWriMo is a good way to get the novel started.


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