There’s a chapter in my upcoming ebook that contains a quick and dirty list of stuff to keep in mind when drafting. I’m listing them here, just for you.
Instead of waiting on your copy of FTDB to arrive on your kindle (you did order one, right? You can get it here), I figured I would drop these super helpful hints here, before time runs out on Camp NaNoWriMo projects. Bookmark this page and reference it before you start working on a new novel, or throughout the process. The best writing tips, distilled into 8 little segments.
1. Buy a notebook. I know that it seems silly and out of date, and if you prefer opening a separate document on your computer, that’s fine. Keep a chapter by chapter play book of what is happening, and what all the characters are really up to. Keep track of items, such as jackets, clothing, and other ancillary items that you might mention later. Keep a running tally on everything.
2. If you forgot to jot something down in the notebook, and you can’t remember, then guess. Yes, I realize that this puts a screwup in your novel that must be fixed later. On the same token, if you think of something that needs to be changed, pretend that it is already changed, and move forward. Jot a note about it in your notebook, so when you go back to edit, you will know to fix it.
3. Writing time is sacred. This is your job, and even if you can only offer up an hour per day, make sure that you keep to that schedule, every day, until the book is done. Put in extra time as you get it. Writing every day will keep the story fresh in your mind, and you will lose track of less of those annoying details.
4. Don’t be afraid to write badly. There are times when I’m on my fourth or fifth editing pass, come across an annoying sentence, and suddenly, I know exactly how to word it. I didn’t waste hours on the previous passes trying to find the right words, I let them come to me. If it’s not the final pass, then it isn’t worth spending more than a couple minutes on any sentence. Sometimes if they are really frustrating me, I just cut them altogether.
5. Don’t listen to the experts. As a matter of fact, don’t listen blindly to me either. Temper every piece of advice that you get. If it sounds like a good idea, try it for a week. If it sounds like a shitty idea, then dump it and move on. Just smile and nod at the advice giver.
6. Do NOT doubt your talent. Even for a second. Don’t give up. If you notice a fault in your writing (and you should from time to time), then work on fixing it, but keep moving forward. This is how we grow, not by speculating, or going back to page one. We become authors by putting words on a page. Allow yourself to make mistakes as you go.
7. “That’s what the editing phase is for.” Anytime I catch myself making some silly mistake, or even a huge mistake, I shake it off and repeat this mantra. Any minor worry about the book. What genre does it fit into? Finish the book. Is my word count on target? Finish the book. Been using semicolons wrong all along? Finish the book. Don’t have a name for that character? Finish the book. Don’t fret about all those irrelevant details. Everything can be fixed with editing, and you will know better how to fix it. So, just finish the damn book.
8. Don’t go back to page one, ever. Trust me on this one, okay? If you finish a chapter, and edit, and do another, and edit, and another, and back to page one, editing, you aren’t ever going to finish your book. Some people are going to disagree with me, let them. But every time I’ve tried to write a book this way (and I have several times in my youth), I have never managed to finish the first draft, and never realized the wonder that is editing.
Hope this helps. These are good tips, and now that I have them somewhere written down (in my book) I go back and look at them when I’m writing. It works for me 🙂 Got any good advice to add? Drop it in a comment. Know a writer or artist this list could help? share it with them. I put links on the page to make it super easy. By the way, Finish the Damn Book! will be 40% off until release on the 28th, so grab your Kindle pre-order today 🙂