Our heroine noticed a number of people discovering problems letting themselves write first drafts, dear Reader. I say “letting themselves” because that’s really what it is: getting away from the inner editor and just getting the story down on the page. You cannot edit a blank page. Making it pretty is revision work.
There are some simple techniques which can help you get that first draft down. They can help clarify mind and purpose – or give you a quick kick to the seat of the pants, as needed. (I usually need the latter when I get stuck.)
First of all, you must Trust Yourself. This is an article by Jessica Faust on Bookends, LLC’s blog. It’s more than just a pep talk. It’s a dose of perspective every writer needs once in a while. Go back to it occasionally, especially when you’re doubting your ability to write.
Should you outline? If so, what type of outline? Phase drafting, snowflake method… So many possibilities. The Art vs. Craft Gap – A Writer’s Paradox is found on Write to Done. This guest post by Larry Brooks addresses the old question of where art is taken over by craft and vice versa. I enjoyed this article for its description of how the two work together to create a proper novel. (If you want more info on things like outlines, phase drafting, etc., check out Plotting.)
Here are some ideas to help you make writing come more easily:
Debra Marrs (of Your Write Life) once told me that cleaning up writing space helps one become more productive. I followed her advice and she was right. (And as I look around, I can see what I’ll be doing this afternoon.) Unclogging Your Creative Space on Essential Prose includes an interview with Lisa Baldwin. The article identifies problem areas and details they whys and the ways of clearing things out. Trust me, this may sound fundamental but it’s some powerful stuff.
Leo Babauta wrote a great article on Freelance Switch titled Create a Morning Writing Ritual. Bet you can guess what it covers. Give this one a look, though. You may think you know what he’s going to write, but there is some good advice and even better ideas. He doesn’t just explain why it can help, he details how to go about creating it.
And now, finally, we come down to the heart of the doubt and frustration: Do I have any idea what I’m doing writing this first draft? Holly Lisle‘s article How to Start a Novel is an extensive instruction manual on exactly how to do that. Use it as a checklist for what you’re already doing or a plan of action as you dive in. Hey, use it as both. I like to go back to it and review her points even while I’m revising. It helps me make sure I’m hitting all the necessary notes.
There are plenty of hurdles on the track when writing. I’ve found that most if not all of them are there because I put them there. “Stay out of your own way, woman,” I mutter to myself on occasion. It may not be the sweetest affirmation out there, but it works for me. Find out what works for you. Stick with it and stick with your writing.