New? Begin with lesson one.
If you've been following along the past few months, you should be finished with all the "prewriting" stages. Now comes one of the most exciting and daunting parts of writing: actually getting started.
There's a meme out there with an unattributed quote that reads, "The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn't write." It's pithy but oh so true. You can talk about world building, characterization, editing, traditional versus self-publishing and the like all day long, but what good is knowing all this if you never put words on the page?
There comes a time when you just need to open a new notebook or document file and start writing. Stories can't tell themselves, and unfortunately, we don't have technology capable of taking what's in your head and putting it on the page for you just yet.
The key to drafting a story is like that old Nike campaign. Just do it. No matter how "good" or "bad" get the words down. Don't stall to try and find the perfect phrase or stop to go back and rewrite everything you've just written. Now isn't the time for revision or editing. It's called a rough draft for a reason. It's supposed to be flawed. Polishing comes later.
Give yourself permission to write complete and utter garbage, get your fingers moving, and you may just surprise yourself. Don't worry about making great allusions, graceful turns of phrase, amazing metaphors, or whether or not your character is too much in their head with nothing happening. All that can be cleaned up, added, or cut as needed when you go back to start rewriting and editing. First you need a completed rough draft.
Believe someone who has made the mistake of endlessly rewriting a half completed draft a half million times. Rewriting from a complete draft is a thousand times easier. It's like trying to course correct on an unfamiliar route having a full map versus a bit of torn one.
If you get stuck, go back to your notes and outline. Writer's block will only stop you if you let it. If nothing else, you can always copy a point from your outline verbatim and then expound upon it until you find your way around the block. Rambling is perfectly fine at this point. You can always make cuts. Cuts are easy. More often than not, you'll find it's nothing more than fear of failing or "not measuring up" standing in your way disguised as something else.
I know this week's lesson doesn't have a lot of concrete information in it. This is a point where no teacher can really help. Only you can tell your story. As the lessons continue, I can give you tools to make things easier, improve technique, and help you clean up that first draft, but I can't write it for you.
Continue on to the second phase of this course: writing tools.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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