Sunday, August 1, 2010

Don't jump ship

The last few Sundays in his newsletter, my teacher Eric Maisel has been talking about writing a novel and the various speed bumps people hit. We hit snags when it isn't going well, or we think it isn't going well, or we don't know what to write next. 

Some of us, I think, are tempted at that point to go back to the beginning and start editing. I don't mean solving structural problems that might lead to a next episode but rather refinements in wording and punctuating, the kind of work that isn't about drafting new material. 

Today, Maisel admonished us to "get in the habit of completing work. If you always stop at some point short of finishing because you feel that your current novel isn’t working, that may constitute your way of not completing things. Try to finish drafts, even if you have your doubts, rather than always abandoning a draft part of the way in."

I have found myself several times in the last weeks at one of those junctures--unsure where to go next in the plot, unsure how much to reveal. So his advice is timely for me, to keep drafting right or wrong. It isn't carved in stone, what I write; these aren't irrevocable decisions, even murdering one of the characters. I can always change my mind.

So this week I'm plunging forward no matter what.

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