Today I wrote nothing. Other than this post and some work emails and a text to my son checking if he wanted a kebab while I was out. (Of course he did.)
But it could be argued that I was writing, since I’ve spent a goodly portion of my day trying to break the story for number 13, the as yet untitled follow up to “A Step Too Far”. P.I. Mac D is back and he’s got a serious problem. I’m pretty sure. I haven’t quite figured that out yet. He might actually be okay.
I’ve got a broad brush view of the beginning, middle and end of the tale. Have a neat little subplot that will pay off nicely and introduce a new character that will be handy in future books. But I’m still stuck. There are some late Second Act things that aren’t clear to me. And until I get unstuck, the “writing” part of this writing ain’t gonna happen. Instead, I’ll wander around, in a seeming daze, working through tons of scenarios until the right one drops in my lap.
So you don’t have to “write” every day, but by all means, keep working on what you’re working on. Not “writing” is a horrible idea.
It’s common knowledge that you can’t write a book without finishing the first draft. It is also common knowledge, or it should be, that your first draft will always be crap.
And you’d think after eleven books I’d remember this. It’s been taking me forever to complete the first draft of book number twelve. It’s got great characters, it’s set in a colourful place and the story is pretty much broken. So what’s the problem?
I’ve forgotten that the first draft can be crap. Should be crap. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that if your first draft isn’t crap, you’re not doing it right. Or write.
And that’s been my problem.
It occurred me today that, despite the history I have writing, I’m trying to produce a publishable first draft. That’s just stupid.
So I think it’s useful to review Tony’s Essential Rules of Writing a First Draft.
Tony’s Essential Rules of Writing a First Draft.
- Spend a serious amount of time not writing, making sure you’ve figured out the story, where it ends, where it starts, what the key plot points are.
- Write. As frequently as possible.
- Continue writing until you’ve finished the story.
- Do not give a rat’s ass about spelling, grammar or character names while writing
- Aren’t you listening? Forget about the spelling.
- Remember Point 3. Finished the damned thing, then worry about the stuff in point 4.
- Remember that even JK Rowling wrote a shitty first draft.
Easy, right? Write.