Rule 12. Don’t Look Back

You’ve just finished the first chapter of your latest Greatest Novel Ever Written. Let’s call it GNER, with a silent G. You’ve poured your heart and soul into Chapter 1 of GNER. Rightfully proud of your accomplishment, you settle back with a favorite beverage and reread the beginning of your magnum opus.

Hmm. Spelling mistake in the first sentence.

Easily corrected. There. Reading on.

Oh, oh. Another spelling mistake. And an incomplete sentence. Oh, this characterization is all wrong. Why do I need all these sentences? I must edit this chapter! Now!

A month later you finally finish GNER chapter 1 and, if you are not dejected, disillusioned or haven’t given up altogether, you move on to chapter 2.

And do it all over again.

When you write, don’t look back. If you’re returning to your WIP after a break in writing it’s fine to reread a couple sentences or a paragraph to get your mind focused on the direction you wanted the story to go, but that’s it. There is a reason why a first draft is called a FIRST DRAFT. It is meant to be the bare bones of your story. It is meant to get all those ideas floating around in your brain onto the page. It is meant to get the damn story written.

It is not meant to be the finished product. That’s what the 2nd and all subsequent drafts are for.

Naturally as you write you’re going to come up with little plot points or descriptions that need to be retroed into your story. Just make a note of it and move on. The only time I do go to the beginning of anything I write it’s to make a quick note that this or that needs to be added. Then I continue from where I left off.

If you bog yourself down with perfecting every chapter, every sentence, you may never finish. Worse, that first chapter you worked on so hard, spent over a month making just perfect…well, by chapter 20 you’ve realized all of it is superfluous and needs to be cut. That’s right. Gone. All that time wasted.

So, don’t look back until you’ve reached The End. (see what I did there?)


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