Mur Lafferty is the host of “I Should Be Writing,” the podcast for wanna-be fiction writers. In her most recent episode, she had some tips for all you NaNoWriMo’s out there on keeping your story going.
Rule number 1: Don’t edit as you go.
Quit worrying about the words, quit complaining about how terrible your writing is, quit reading what you just wrote over and over and over, quit pulling out the thesaurus, and quit listening to your internal editor. In fact, Mur says to put that guy in a box. I keep mine in a casket… it’s kind of the same. Anyway, do whatever you have to do to get him off your shoulder. If something is bad or something doesn’t work, just write a note to your “editor” that he can fix it later… If he’s nice. A few weeks in the Cave of Wonders ought to chill him out! (Yep, that’s an Aladdin reference. Deal with it.)
Rule number 2: If you don’t know what to say, just write what happens.
Look, there’s going to be places that trip you up. Something just doesn’t sound right or the dialogue isn’t achieving the emotional impact you wanted. That’s going to happen. What you have to do is let it be. Don’t sit and stare at it, don’t rewrite it over and over, and don’t cry about it. Just write what you want it to convey and move on. “Dialogue goes here. Tom strikes a nerve and Sally runs away crying.” See how easy that is? Don’t sacrifice the words you could be writing for the words you aren’t able to write right now. Move on.
We know this one, right? You’re all excited. You give your first three chapters to a friend, say “prepare to be amazed”, and proceed to stare, breathless and unblinking, while your friend scans your manuscript in awkward silence. What happens next? Your friend shrugs, hands it back and says “Neat idea. I like it.” Then starts asking where you want to eat.
I have theories as to why this happens, but won’t bore you with them here. Suffice it to say that your work is for your eyes only. At least for November.
For the full episode, check out Mur’s podcast at www.murverse.com (episode 266)