You’ve finally started your epic novel. It’s going to be a best seller, the idea is amazing, your main character is complex and real, you even have your plot details planned. But… you haven’t touched the document in weeks. Maybe even a month. Sure, you’ve been thinking about the story and what you want to say. You might have even planned out some greater details. But you have no idea how (or dare I say motivation) to keep writing. So here are three quick ways to keep pushing through your novel.
I know it probably sounds a little counterproductive but during your first draft editing is probably the worst thing you can do. From small spelling and grammatical errors to fixing continuity errors and massive plot holes. Resist the temptation to go back and edit. The best thing you can do is to write yourself a note and just keep going. By stopping, editing and starting again you lose momentum. You get caught up in the imperfections of what you’re writing and the enormity of your novel starts to stretch out endlessly before you. Instead, if you focus on just getting the plot out in the first draft you’ll find yourself inspired and running through the story (even if it’s not the prettiest prose).
Lower your first draft expectations
Actually implementing the first point isn’t the easiest thing to do. When I first tried it I struggled to let go of my expectations which I was horribly crushing by not editing. Even though it was only the first draft, and I knew it was irrational, I wanted my writing to read beautifully and for the characters to be instantly real and the dialogue to be naturally witty. But its the first draft, it’s not meant to be pretty. No first draft is. I doubt even John Green’s first drafts were full of the poetic one-liners that resound with his readers today. The truth is, books are edited into existence. And no one has to ever read the first draft except for you – so it doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t even have to be okay. Look at your first draft as an extended outline if you have to. Its the structure, you can decorate it later.
Find time to keep writing every day
Even if its only 10 minutes. It keeps your head in the story, helps with continuity, keeps you excited, and destroys the fear of the white page of death. So, set yourself a daily writing goal, an hour of the day, deadlines, whatever it takes to get pen to paper every. single. day.
One thing I’ve recently started doing is keeping a copy of my novel on a google doc. That way I can access it through any computer and even my phone. Sometimes when I have a spare five minutes, say waiting for the train, I’ll pull out my phone and get out a quick paragraph. It’s not always my prettiest writing, but it’s enough to get me motivated to pull out my computer and write when I’m on the train (instead of sleeping).
So, how do you keep writing? Let us know in the comments below.