When I’m working on the first draft of a novel, at times it can feel like I’m pushing an enormous boulder up a mountain. Have you ever had that feeling? It’s during those periods that I have to trust what I’ve learned over the course of writing multiple books, which is that I have to keep going. So day after day I force myself to sit down and inch the story along, however slowly, because I know that by doing so, I will eventually reach the end.
Moving the story forward is the key to finishing the first draft. When I was writing my first novel, I spent far too much time tweaking what I’d already written instead of advancing the plot. At the time I thought that approach was a good use of my creative energy, but looking back I realize it was a form of mental procrastination. As a result it took me MUCH longer to finish that book than any of the ones I’ve written since. Now I don’t go back and tweak or do any form of rewriting until I’m pretty much done with the (always rough, sometimes ugly) first pass. I still edit along the way, but I try to avoid anything major until the basic framework of the story is complete.
Believe me, there have been many occasions where I’ve had to tell myself “Maria, this book isn’t going to write itself!” just to get myself to sit down in front of my computer. But I keep pushing that boulder up the mountain, slowly but steadily, because I know how great it will feel when I reach the top and get to watch that first draft roll down the other side and (eventually) turn into a fully formed novel.
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