I’d like to start a new series of posts called “Favorite Writing Tips.” I’m going to take things out of order, though.
I’m not going to start with tips about how to plan a novel — even though that might seem like the logical order — because this tip is just my favorite. It’s the one I credit with helping me get through writing the first drafts of my novels, in spite of my perfectionist nature. Unlike past attempts at writing, I’m no longer trudging through the quicksand of endless revisions and editing as I go, so this one gets the #1 spot on my “Favorite Writing Tips” list.
Write ‘As If’ — What does that mean?
In Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D., the very first tip towards completing the otherwise monumental task of finishing a novel in 30 days is a simple one. And yet it’s brilliant, and one I’d never considered until I read it, myself, and it’s useful even if you have no desire to write a novel in 30 days.
It said this —
Secret #1: Work ‘As If’ — Working ‘as if’ means that you keep writing — that you keep moving forward with your story — without stopping to rewrite every time you change your mind about a character, plot, or setting detail. Instead, you take notes … to stay on task while still remembering changes you’ll need to make later…. As new ideas or new directions come to mind, you jot them down — in an organized way of course — and keep writing AS IF you’ve made those changes already.”
It goes on to say, “You cannot write and rewrite at the same time if you want to finish a book in 30 days.”
Now, I never would expect to finish any novel in 30 days, but I still think it is probably the most useful piece of advice I’ve received on actually completing a novel. A past attempt ended up taking me years because I would constantly go back and edit myself, revise, and change things.
When I began working on The Smuggler’s Gambit, I did all of my writing ‘as if’ any changes, any revisions I might want to make to the story while writing the first draft—even substantial ones—had already been made. In so doing, I was actually able to make it through that first draft. (My prior attempt at writing a different novel spanned a full seven years on and off, while I continually revised, edited, and changed things—never actually finishing the first draft!)
How do you handle changes in your novel? Do you edit as you go, or are you a fan of writing ‘as if’?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.