As you embark on the first draft of your novel, please watch out for that hole up ahead, the deep dark hole many aspiring authors have fallen into. Go ahead. Peer over the edge. Do you see them all down there, piled on top of each other in the dark?
Sadly enough, many writers plunge into this abyss before ever completing a single chapter. The hole is called ‘PLACING TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF’. Pressure, pressure. What if my novel isn’t good enough? What if my main character is boring? What if the plot meanders? What if I can’t find a plot? What if my husband hates my writing? What if I spend all that time working on it and it never gets published?
These questions are the instruments of paralysis.
When you begin a first draft, it is imperative that you place no pressure on yourself. Lofty expectations do not belong here, not at this stage in the process. All you should be concerned about with a first draft is getting black on white, ink on paper. When you lower your expectations and reduce the pressure, you will soon realize what a beautiful place the world is, and how fun it is to write, how intoxicating it is to play with language. Freed from all those ridiculous gnawing fears, you will be more open to discovery, which is the true blessing of a first draft. Maybe your main character should be a woman, not a man. Maybe your book should take place in Canada, not Argentina. These are the discoveries, the golden doors that can only be opened by an imagination unencumbered by lofty expectations.
Set aside a two week period during which you will not judge your writing whatsoever. Not one bit. Not one line of writing gets evaluated. All you’re concerned about is getting black on white, ink on paper. Let it rip. Let it gush out of you. Write a billion words in fourteen days. If you find that it’s hard not to judge, then imagine that there’s a portal in your kitchen, in between the microwave and the toaster oven. When you step through it, you enter a parallel universe where judging of any kind is against the law. Give this world a name. Your imaginary passport allows you to stay there for two weeks. You will find it to be one of the loveliest and most productive places you’ve ever been!