by Anna Bell
I’ve written before about the psychological mind games I have to play in order to finish the first draft of a novel, and my current WIP is no exception. The most important rule I write a first draft by is that I only go forward and never ever go back to tinker and change things.
No matter how much I plan, there’s usually a storyline that doesn’t translate well on paper or a new storyline that needs to be added. I’ll be writing the draft and something won’t quite click, but then further down the line an idea on how to solve the issue will pop into my head. With my golden rule of never going backwards, I apply the storyline or the change from that point on and I add a reminder in my notes to make the change in the edit.
The reason I don’t go back and make the changes at the time is that I don’t want to get bogged down in editing during the first draft stage. I write a quick and dirty first draft that is usually an awful mess, but it’s about putting down placeholders and getting the story lines straight in my mind. There’s also a fear that I might go back and change or add the storyline only for another problem to crop up later on in the draft and then it will need to be amended or cut. By not going back, I save all the edits for the end and keep the writing momentum going on the first draft.