“In science there is a dictum: don’t add an experiment to an experiment. Don’t make things unnecessarily complicated. In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don’t ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story.”
-Ben Bova


Ken Scholes, one of the bloggers at Genreality, is currently in the middle of posting a series of blogs entitled So You Wanna Write Your First NovelPart 1 was posted on June 4 and it focused on the pre-draft of a novel. Part 2 was posted on June 11, and it spoke more on the actual drafting of the novel. The real work.

As I was reading the most recent part, there were several things that I thought he hit right on the head. It was like he knew what had transpired in my life as a writer! Haha, just goes to show that we writers aren’t alone in challenges we face.

I recommend you read it in its entirety, but here are a few points that I’ll share and expound upon:

  • “…knowing how you write novels is an important bit of self-awareness.”

As I said, we writers aren’t alone in the obstacles we may face. We are all about support and encouragement, but each of us can have our own ways of writing. Whether it be a short story, a novel, a poem, an essay, etc. There is no “one way” to get the first draft written. The ultimate goal is the same, but the avenues can vary.

Some writers construct elaborate outlines that detail what will happen in each chapter. Some writers sit down and start winging it, going wherever their characters take them. Other writers may combine both of these avenues to create an entirely different work ethic. And again, other writers may have something completely different!

While it is good to receive information from other writers who’ve written novels to see how they attacked that first draft, maybe what they used won’t work for you. Try it, but maybe a tweak here and there will be more sufficient for you, your personality, and schedule. But no matter how, the one constant factor to getting a first draft done is to write.

  • “I’m a big fan of daily production.  Or at least six days per week.  Once you get away from that habit, you lose the habit and you also risk losing the continuity and momentum of your story by becoming too distant from it.”

I know this all too well. It’s something I’m almost currently experiencing with the book I’m writing (which is technically a rewrite of sorts) but not quite. Yeah, figure that one out…

But in past years, I’ve done this a lot. There’d been times I’d skip a day because other menial priorities jumped higher on the list. Maybe I did a good job the day prior and thought it’d be okay. But that eventually turned into a lengthier time, and before I knew it, I wasn’t writing.

Dorothy C. Fontana has a quote that says, “You can’t say, I won’t write today because that excuse will extend into several days, then several months, then… you are not a writer anymore, just someone who dreams about being a writer.

  • “If you’re too sick to write, do something else writing related that isn’t impacted by the illness.”

Let’s face it — sickness can be a factor. Sitting in a chair and writing is quite often the last thing you’ll feel like doing if you’re really sick. But you’re a writer; there’s more to being a writer than writing. If your body is immobile and you still have your wits, try to define in words how it is you’re feeling. If you ever have a character in your situation, you’ll have some good diction to use. Or you can watch a good movie and look at the storytelling aspect of it with a fine tooth comb, and you can come away with golden nuggets for your work.

  • “You have to train to run a marathon and the writing life is definitely a marathon, not a sprint.”

This is good advice. Say you have one novel completed and sold. Good for you… Now, are you going to be a one-hit wonder or do you plan on making this a career? Writers don’t stop writing. They write one thing, then write something else, and write something else, and it continues. Even if you wrote a novel in a month, it takes more than that to make it — and your career — soar. Unless you want to release one novel and then fizzle away, you have to write.

  • “It doesn’t have to be good; it just has to be done.”

James Michener said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

What I’ve learned over the years is that just getting the piece done can be quite beneficial. I once was in the habit of constantly revising as I wrote, to the point where I wasn’t writing anymore and I wasn’t pushing forward. What untrained me was taking part (and completing) my first NaNoWriMo. It was an excellent eye-opener about simply getting down that first draft, no matter how crappy the words were (fixing the flaws would come in the revision stages). I wrote either early in the morning or late at night. But my only goal was to reach my daily word count and, ultimately, the end of the novel.

Some writers can revise as they go and still push forward. But in my case, history has revealed, that is treading some dangerous waters. I know how I have to write.

But find what works for you, read the rest of the post, and go write your first draft!