20 Tips for Selling Your Novel, Part Two: Writing the Draft
If you’re ready to swap pre-writing for actual draft writing, it’s good to have some strategies for facing the tasks ahead.
5. Don’t sweat the whole book at once.
As I mentioned in part one, some writers have trouble knowing where to start; some get out of the gate fast and then get stuck. The answer to both things is the same: don’t be wed to the idea that you must always write the book in order. Though I often do write sequentially, I realized long ago that trying to imagine the whole book can at times be a hindrance.
If I have a great scene in mind, I should write that scene, no matter where it falls. If I don’t know the perfect opening, then I should write a decent middle. An entire book can feel like an enormous burden, but if I focus on a chapter or even a single scene, I lighten my own mental load. I can go back and fill in missing material when I need.
Considering that there are going to be multiple drafts — and if there are not, are you really a writer? — there’s no good reason to feel like you must always write in order. For sure, if writing only forward suits you best, embrace that knowledge; but don’t stay wed to that practice if it stops you cold.
6. Don’t be afraid of the ugly draft
Whether you write forward or hopscotch around, free yourself up from worries about perfection in your first draft. Your goal is to get the story out there. Write fast, write furiously, and write messy. Try not to sit and exhaustively tinker with every line, polishing it like a gemstone, before moving on. As far as the momentum of your idea can take you, follow it. There will be redundancies and continuity errors and inconsistencies — it happens in every book. For now, keep writing and know that addressing those issues will be part of your revision.
7. Depart from the plan
You will often make discoveries along the way, realizing something you hadn’t understood about your character or suddenly being inspired to chase down a new avenue of thought. Welcome these moments and run with them.