A: “One word at a time.”
I’ve always hated that quote, but it does ring true in a certain sense. When you sit down to write, you’ve got two options:
- Don’t write.
If you want to write a novel, you have to lock yourself down and force yourself to get the words out. You can outline all day long, or do character charts until your blue in the face, but if you don’t just sit down and get to work, in the end you’ll nothing but an outline and a stack of unused characters.
There are other games you can play too. Some of my favorite authors still endorse that ridiculous “note card plotting” strategy that my college English professors use to preach. Others come up with plot outlines so strict and static that they run the risk of allowing the outline to dictate the creativity, which in turn, makes their prose flow more like a term paper than a novel.
Stephen King’s advice is to plop down on your chair and stay put until you reach your daily word count goal, and basically write on the fly as you do it. I’m not totally in agreement with the daily word count goal (it’s got its pros and cons), but I do agree that writing on the fly is the way that works best for me. Still I need to have some idea of where the plot is going, otherwise it will go on far too long and when it does end, the ending leaves a lot to be desired. And yes, we’ve all seen a few real world examples of when an author stretches out a story far too long and then delivers a terrible finale.
Anyhow, we’ve all got things that work well for us and things that don’t. Figure out what works best for you. Don’t put too much thought into it, just sit down and do it.
One word at a time.