Stocking Stuffers is a series for the busy writer/blogger this holiday season.
We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we'll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!
Today's Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad DRAFTING skillz:
1--Don't start until you have a road map. I can hear the pantsers screaming, but this applies to you too. If you are an outliner, outline. If you're a pantser, have a plan. Brainstorming means understanding the story you want to write. Know your characters, what their motivations are and most importantly, what your goal is for this novel. Make notes in a journal or doc. to reference--it will help you later if you get stuck. A road map means never facing the dreaded question: What should my character do now?
2--Drafting is not about quality, it's about storytelling. This isn't Hell's Kitchen, It's a first draft. All you need to do is transcribe the story in your head onto the page. Don't agonize over a turn of phrase, or how to convey the perfect description. Give yourself permission to use placeholders if needed (bland descriptions, cliched actions) to be reworked later during revisions.
3--Create a mental shift. Drafting works best when you can shove everything else aside and just write. To do this, minimize distractions (put a movie on for the kids, unplug the phone, shut off your email) and create a productive writing environment. Choose a mental aid to train your brain that it's time to write: light a candle, for example, or draft the book in a color other than black. Whatever you choose, do this only when you draft and your brain will shift into gear faster.
4--Be consistent. Butt-in-chair, all the way. Make a contract with yourself to set aside so many hours per day or week to draft your book. If you struggle with procrastination, set up a reward system for specific word counts--something that has value to you. If you're brave, try Write or Die. If Twitter is your downfall, turn off the net or try a laptop somewhere without wi-fi.
5--Fight the urge to go backwards. This ties in with #2, but is oh-so-important. Too many writers get caught on the merry-go-round of fixing that their novel languishes forever, incomplete. Always write with the end in mind. If the plot takes an unexpected turn and therefore changes a storyline or event earlier on, don't go back and rewrite. Instead, make notes about the changes as a placeholder and then keep writing the current scene. This way you keep that creative flow and story pacing going. Come back and reinvent the earlier scene after you finish the book, when you have the time and focus needed to get it right.