The blank page. We are all faced with it. Is it exciting, overwhelming or a little of each? Even when you know what you want to write about, where do you start? Easy. You start.
No snickering, please. I meant it because it does not matter where you start, it only matters that you begin. That is what the first draft is all about: beginning, writing along and, eventually, ending. Do not look at what you have written, do not self-correct, only keep going until you get to the end, even if that means days, weeks or months in the future. If there is something you want to add and correct in the beginning, make a note of it, but do not go back and “fix.” You want to keep the flow going. You want the flow to come from a real place within and not be concerned with what anyone else might say or think or whether what you have is a Pulitzer Prize winner or whether it will make you rich. Few writers get rich or can even make a living from their writing. You are writing because you cannot not write.
You have to end that story. Many writers get stuck in the middle or three-quarters of the way through. There is an urge to go back and read what you have written, fix it up, anything but go on to the end. It has happened to me, and maybe it has already happened to you. Resist. Maybe you can’t think of a proper ending, or maybe you cannot say goodbye to your characters. Resist. End it even if there is a nag telling you your ending is a mess. You can fix it later.
Now forget that precious story or novel for a while. Many authors say for at least a month or two or six. Stephen King waits at least six weeks. I put him in here because he knows what he is talking about – don’t you think? You need to look at your story with a fresh mind. Try this, and you will understand what I mean. The longer you wait, the more objective you will be.
The next post will have more about the first draft. How do you find time to write? What is this “from dreams” business? What separates a literary or, even a “good” story from all that mess out there? Stay tune.