1. Write every day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, the brain is impressed by regular habits. When you work on your book every day, it stays fresh in your head – and amazingly, even when you’re not right there working on it, your subconscious mind will keep working on it for you.
2. Writing is really two processes: creating and editing. When you’re in the creating stage, don’t allow yourself to judge and edit. Take that mean, critical voice and shut it down. Let your imagination flow when you’re creating … there’ll be plenty of time for the editing and cutting stage later. Tell yourself that you have permission to get the first draft down before you start editing and fixing. You also have permission to write the worst first draft possible! Have at it.
4. Then, when you’re ready, find some trustworthy friend you can show your work to – someone who won’t just delight in tearing it apart, but who will give you an honest appraisal of it. Choose this person carefully, and ask specific questions. Mostly you want to know if the story was compelling enough to keep somebody turning pages and wanting to know more. That’s really the most important thing a story needs to do, right?
5. Honor the work. Give it your attention, even if you get insights about your story or your characters at the most inconvenient times. I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to write down a scene that suddenly flooded my head, and I’ve pulled over off the highway and written on Taco Bell bags when there wasn’t anything else handy. (Another good idea is to always carry some index cards, so you can catch any idea that might come floating by.) Remember that many ideas don’t arrive when you’re sitting with your fingers poised over the keyboard. Don’t turn these stray ideas away; sometimes they get mad and don’t come back.
The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson is out now.