Many writers come to a point in writing their novel where they are suddenly lost, or their interest wanes, or they think what they’ve been doing is crap. I think Stephen King gave the best advice (though I have heard it from others as well) in his book On Writing when he said to keep writing until you finish the story. No matter what. Don’t stop to revise or correct errors, and don’t give up on it either. Once you are finished you will have a fleshed-out story you can use as a template, if indeed you didn’t end up with a pretty damned good first draft. You can fix it all later. But if you’ve stopped and pushed it aside for something new and more exciting, of if you’ve wadded it up and thrown it away, then you’ve got nothing but a pattern of never finishing what you start.
I had a huge slump early in The Cowboy’s Baby and am surprised that the three chapters I ended up with survived the years. And yes, I set it aside for something new and more exciting which I still haven’t finished. I wish I had completed The Cowboy’s Baby when I first started it. If I had, I probably would have ended up with five or more completed novels to my credit by now and would be a better writer for it.
I am now at that point in my new novel Arroyo (help, I need a better title), but I am going to soldier on and get the first draft up to 60,000 or 80,000 words before fixing anything. Because I know what will happen if I don’t. When I was young and just beginning I used to stop and throw away page one every time I made a typo (this was way back in the days of typewriters and liquid paper). I eventually ended up with a perfect first couple of paragraphs, and that was all.
So, even if you have to write your own version of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” for several paragraphs before you get yourself back on track, just keep on truckin’. You can fix it later. And even if some of what you write during this time turns out to be total crap, maybe the rest of it has possibilities.
Blog photo by Roxanne Rix. www.amazon.com/The-Cowboys-Baby-ebook/dp/B003UYUVZC. The Cowboy’s Baby mini-excerpt—She had a bullwhip wrapped casually around her arm and was dangling it to the ground like a particularly nasty snake.
What I’ve read this week—-Killer Instinct by Robert W. Walker and Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh and UR by Stephen King.
Met someone new this week via Nightmare Factor and Twitter. If you love Halloween and the macabre, check out www.amandanorman.com She photographs graveyards, gargoyles and spooky people.