Monday, March 25, 2013



Many years ago, before I was a published author, I decided to write a novel.

I sat at my typewriter (that dates me!) and wrote the first two pages - over and over and over again. I lingered over every word, polished every phrase, read it out loud to my cat. Some days I loved what I had written, other days I changed it. Made it better. So I thought.

This went on for days and, quite honestly, weeks. I could probably sit down and write out those two pages now, I remember them so well.

Does it surprise you to know that the novel was never finished? Never even got out of the starting gate?

Why? It was just plain easier to tinker with those two pages than to plunge into the unknown and keep writing.

I still struggle with the urge to make that first draft perfect. But I have disciplined myself to write it quickly and to keep going every day.  My weekly word quote helps a lot (see previous blog Just Do It!). A word quota makes you move on.

To keep that first draft flowing, I try to end each writing session with a clear idea of what comes next. I want to be excited to go back to my computer the next day. And I tell that judgemental voice in the back of my head to leave me alone and come back when I am ready to revise and polish - when I am finished my first draft.

I admit that's hard for me. Sometimes  I compromise and allow myself ten minutes to reread yesterday's writing and play with it. Then I move on!

Some advice from James Scott Bell in The Art  of War for Writers. . .

When you write that first draft, my advice is: WRITE HARD, WRITE FAST.


Tumbleweed Skies by Valerie Sherrard

I loved the first line: "I could tell right away that this wasn't a house that wanted me." Ellie is left at her Grandma Acklebee's farm in Saskatchewan while her father takes a temporary job as a travelling salesman. The characters are engaging and the story is moving.


What if . . .  you had to spend your summer with a relative you had never met? What surprising things might happen?

 Next week:  One Thing Leads to Another


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