Today, I’m pleased to welcome author M.H. Woodscourt as a guest on my blog, hosting her today as part of the book tour for her new novel Crownless.
Guest Post by M.H. Woodscourt
The best writing advice I ever received was “Write now, edit later.”
Seems simple enough, but sometimes that inner editor gets in the way. When I wrote that first manuscript, I couldn’t wait to read over my completed chapter and polish it. But first drafts are always ugly. I could spend a year polishing that one chapter, make it perfect, then move on, repeating the process slowly…only to discover I had to rewrite everything because a plot twist I uncovered along my journey rendered that first chapter useless.
A common struggle for aspiring novelists trying to finish that first draft is the write vs. edit debate. And I’m not here to say you can’t edit as you go; some writers, like Terry Goodkind, find that a more workable approach.
But the rest of us must choose FIRST to write, and SECOND to edit.
Another issue with editing as you draft is how discouraging it is to spend one week or more on a single scene or chapter, when you might otherwise double or triple that. I remember tweaking every paragraph five times over before moving on, and that first novel took three years to finish. Three! That’s just too slow.
When I shut off that inner editor and really committed not to read over my writing except to refresh my memory or reference some important point, I got faster at typing and my thoughts flowed better.
Consistency is more important than speed. And that means write, write, write.
Another unforeseen benefit to writing now, editing later: I’d improved my prose a whole lot between the beginning and end. Had I spent more time editing as I went along, the earliest chapter still would have been obsolete. Better to worry about improvements after you have the whole story in your head and a better grasp of your developing style.
“That’s all well and good,” you say, “—but how do you shut off your inner editor?”
The answer may be different for each writer, but these eight tips help me to deafen that persistent voice and keep going:
- Bribe yourself. Set a quick word goal, like 200-500 words, set a timer and sprint to the end. At the end of that time-limit, if you’ve reached that preset word count, eat a piece of chocolate (or your preferred snack/beverage). Set a new goal. Repeat. (Obviously, be responsible about this. Don’t overeat and make yourself sick.)
- Participate in NaNoWriMo. (Google that if you’re unfamiliar with this epic non-profit organization. It’s AWESOME.) Writing 50k words in a single month, you don’t have time to heed that inner editor. I’ve participated annually over the past 13 years and loved it!
- Be accountable to someone. Set a feasible daily or weekly word-count goal (I write a minimum of 2k words six days a week). Report your progress to your accountability partner. Let them cheer you on!
- Show up. Seriously, writing is more about steady habits than fast typing or deep worldbuilding. You can dream and plot and plan all day, but the words won’t get written unless you have a goal and you show up for that goal. Maybe writing 2k daily words is too much. Instead, write for 20 minutes each day. Be consistent.
- Stay hydrated. Weird advice? Not really. My weakest writing days are when I don’t have a glass of water on hand. Sip on the regular. Refill. Dehydrated brains don’t yield topnotch ingenuity.
- Take a walk or shower before you sit down to write—or whatever gets your juices flowing. Collect your thoughts. Arrange a tentative goal for your current scene or chapter. Psyche yourself up for it. Then write that scene! If you’re excited to paint that passage, your inner editor will stay quiet to let you.
- Don’t read over the last line you wrote unless you absolutely must reference it. Just don’t. Not until you’ve finished your first novel, or two, or three. After that, you’ll have gained enough confidence and consistent habits, you can afford to ease up a bit—but don’t undermine the good writing habits you’ve picked up!
- Network with like-minded writers on social media. Staying in a dark closet to write your novel is lonely. Watching other writers pursue the same dream, overcome the same hurdles, bribe similar inner editors, will make you feel like you’re walking a path among friends. Don’t worry—most of us are introverts. We won’t judge your awkwardness and most of us are happy to talk shop.
If you can quiet that inner editor and show up consistently to write, you can finish what you’ve always dreamed of completing. It doesn’t have to take years to type out “the end.”
You’ve got this.
About The Author
Writer of fantasy, magic weaver, dragon rider! Having spent the past 20 years devotedly writing fantasy, it’s safe to say M. H. Woodscourt is now more fae than human.
All of her fantasy worlds connect with each other in a broad Universe, forged with great love and no small measure of blood, sweat, and tears. When she’s not writing, she’s napping or reading a book with a mug of hot cocoa close at hand while her quirky cat Wynter nibbles her toes.
Learn more at www.mhwoodscourt.com
Crownless Book Tour
A fugitive storyteller running out of time. A prince hiding from his mother. A kingdom on the brink of collapse. A search for a world of magic.
Convinced his tales are true, storyteller Jinji is determined to find the legendary fae realm of Shinac to save his world from a dread lord trying to cross over—before a fatal illness ends Jinji’s life.
Prince Jetekesh is caught between a controlling mother and his affection for his dying father—until he’s kidnapped and forced to journey with a delusional storyteller and a motley band of fugitives in search of a myth.
Hunted by the queen, hindered by a malady, and invaded by an enemy empire, Jinji and Jetekesh race across a crumbling kingdom to find the alleged gate between worlds.
But even if Shinac exists, how can a humble storyteller and deposed prince hope to stand against a devastating evil?