The blank page: A clean start or a fresh nightmare?As a NaNoWriMo survivor (and the author of ten romance novels) I’d like to offer my Top 3 Tips for getting words on the page.
#1: Writing Caves Are OverratedI used to have the perfect writing environment—a bedroom I converted into an office, and filled with corkboards and reference books and custom shelving to house all my authorly knickknacks.
The best thing about my writing cave: It rocked.
The worst thing about my writing cave: I convinced myself that the magic would only happen while I was inside of it. That I needed the writing cave, the high speed internet, the reference books on their custom shelving, the corkboard and the dry erase board (because why have just one?) and a few solid hours of uninterrupted time with a fast computer and an oversized monitor in order to possibly get words on the page.
Turns out, that’s a bunch of crap. It’s an excuse.
You don’t need paradise on earth in order to be productive. You can write in a notebook, on a laptop, in the Dropbox app on your phone. You can jot plot twists on a napkin while you wait for fresh French fries. You can type a few lines of dialogue on the bleachers while you wait for your kid’s turn at bat.
No, really. You CAN. Will it be lower quality? Try it and see. You may be shocked at how nearly indistinguishable words written while on hold with the power company are with words written whilst rose petals artfully fluttered from the sky inside your writing cave.
Don’t build up myths that prevent you from writing. Trust in yourself. You can do it.
#2: There is No Writers BlockIf I learned anything from watching The Matrix, it’s that there is no spoon. (Come to think of it, I may not have learned anything from watching The Matrix.)
If I have learned anything from battling against my own self-sabotage, it’s that there is no “writers block”. If you’re sitting in front of your computer and you can’t put words on the page, there are typically only two causes:
1) You are wrong about what should happen next and your subconscious is trying to get you to rethink.Perhaps you’re making a character act out of character, or forcing the plot in an unmotivated or illogical direction. When this happens, the easiest way to have a brilliant idea is to go somewhere you can’t write it down. To attract answers, I recommend long walks, a hot shower, or a drive to the grocery store.
2) You are correct about what should happen next and are just procrastinating, out of fear of success or fear of failure or too many good shows on Netflix.The only cure for this is to knock it off. If you know what you should be doing and you have a few minutes to make a dent in it—go for it! You will hate yourself more choosing not to write, than for not knowing what to write.
Right now, it’s time to write.
#3: Your Baby is Ugly. (As it should be.)
Let’s face it—first drafts are first drafts for a reason. Your first take isn’t going to be perfect, so stop driving yourself insane trying to make perfection flow from the very first word.
As the saying goes: You can’t fix a blank page. You also can’t fix the first draft of every sentence without simultaneously turning it into a second draft.
NaNoWriMo isn’t about creating the final, glowing copy that will earn you the #1 International Bestseller accolades we all dream of. It’s about writing a book.
Much like you have the baby first, then raise it second—first you write the book, then you worry about fixing it.
Plot points and even entire characters can become irrelevant over the course of a first draft. If you spend hours-days-weeks coaxing literary perfection out of words that you’re later going to delete altogether, what was the point?
Write. Writing is the point. When you get to The End, celebrate it. You deserve it.
And then you can edit.
About the Author
Erica Ridley is a USA Today best-selling author of historical romance novels. Her latest series, The Dukes of War, features roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.
When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.
FREE: The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation
Certain individuals might consider Lady Amelia Pembroke a managing sort of female, but truly, most people would be lost without her help. Why, the latest on-dit is that rakish Viscount Sheffield is canceling the fête of the year because he hasn't time for silly soirees. He doesn't need time—he needs her!
NEW RELEASE: The Brigadier’s Runaway Bride
After being left for dead on the battlefield, Brigadier Edmund Blackpool is scarred inside and out. He fights his way home only to discover his intended before the altar with his best friend. He'll be the one to marry her, no matter what she wants! But when his new bride disappears with his child, he must reopen his wounds to win the most important battle of his life.