Today, I made some decisions about writing which I want to share with you. Sweet and simple truths that I am happy to have learned earlier rather than later:
- Writing is a marathon and not a sprint.
It is about writing consistently, every day. Being disciplined about it and not putting it off with the false promise of writing twice the number of words the next day. Some people think that a “stroke of creativity” is required to start writing, and how can one write without being in the right mood. Asked about his approach to writing, William Faulkner said, “I only write when I am inspired, but I see to it that I am inspired at 9 o’clock every day.”
- Plot first, prose second.
I tend to get sidetracked by showing off with my prose. When I write a sentence, I often marvel at it and fuss over finding just the right words. The result is a sometimes artificially flowery language with tends to the unnatural. Also, I waste time for something which comes much later in the process. What matters most at this stage, is creating a tight, engaging plot line. The What is what matters now and not the How.
- Every first draft is bound to be horrible.
I spend as much time re-writing and re-re-writing than it took me to write it the first time around. I need to develop the courage to leave rough edges and holes. Because every first draft of every writer is a lot different from what gets finally printed. It’s OK to not be great. There will be a lot of opportunities to fix it later. But it is much easier to deal with a page full of text than with an empty page. And therein lies the danger: eternal re-writes are just a way to procrastinate for me.
I have started on Chapter 4 and am currently holding at 500+ words. Any bets if I break the 1,000 word barrier today? I dare you!
9:30 pm and I am proud of myself. I did well: 1,652 words into Chapter 4, and all in one day. Eleven hundred words in less than hours, actually.