“Life is a chaos of signs and clues. We yearn for a narrative to explain the world. Religion used to do it. Elaborate conspiracy theories, aliens, and New Age wishful thinking are what some cling to now. All writing springs from loss and makes its way towards completion. In the crime novel, we find the perfect metaphor for the way we read the signs that surround us and make sense of our existence. Writing gives us back the things that life takes away.”
One of the many wonderful gifts I receive from writing my posts is meeting virtually other devoted writers and readers. Just recently, I connected with the creator of a wonderful site called: whatareyoureadingfor.wordpress.com (more in a future post). When I visited, I came across a post about a crime writer named Stav Sherez. Inspired to hop over to his site, I found a great post called “Why first drafts are like sharks OR How not to start your new novel.” In it Stav talked about writing 9000 words of a new novel and then realizing he had to dump them overboard and begin again. He also gave some very helpful tips, which I am quoting directly here:
1. Write every day – it seems superfluous to say and there will be bad days, there always are, but it’s only by creating a routine and a rhythm that books gets written. Like the proverbial shark, first drafts have to keep moving or they die.
2. Don’t Look Back! – Don’t ever look back at what you’ve written until you’ve finished the first draft. This is perhaps the most common cause of that strange disease, author paralysis. Hemingway said the first draft of anything was always crap and who’s to argue with Hem? So forget what you’ve written, don’t think about it until the next run-through, there’s going to be plenty of chances to re-write it.
3. Don’t second-guess your instincts. Go with whatever impulse you have. If the plot doesn’t work you can always fix it in the next draft.
4. Write what you don’t know you know. When you type fast enough the words begin to pour quicker than you can consciously think and the subconscious takes over. Most of my best plot twists and ideas have come from typing fast enough to short circuit the mind.
5. Everything can be fixed. This can’t be emphasised enough so don’t stress on how bad your first draft is, just finish it and then make it better in successive drafts.
I just love the directness and practicality of this advice from a seasoned pro who definitely has a flair for words (stavsherez.com). Write on!