Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reaching that goal: the first 100 pages

I have to brag here and I think it's very healthy for writers, especially closet writers, to brag. I've written my first 100 pages!

I've never gotten this far before. Life has ALWAYS gotten in the's just the way it goes. Life is life, and it will not slow down ever, even if you want to write a novel. It's relentless. However, if you want to write a novel, you have to write in spite of life.

So, when you finally do get that idea that won't leave you alone, those characters who keep asking you, "when are we going to get together?", and the subsequent other ideas that are starting to back up behind the novel idea that you've been putting on hold...and you actually SIT DOWN and begin to WRITE, that first one hundred page hurdle seems so far away. Write and write as you may, it's totally nerve raking and seems unattainable.

However, once you get there, once you have your first 100 pages written, it's like taking in the view after climbing a mountain. 100 pages!?!? I wrote 100 page!??!? You email all your writing buddies to tell them about it. You just can't hold in your own astonishment and joy. You tell your hubby who, understandably, is equally astonished as well. "So you are writting down there. I thought you were just surfing the web."

So few people actually do what they set out to do because of that pesky life, however we can all reach our dreams. I think what holds most of us back is that first step. That first goal: those first 100 pages. How brilliant would it be if you were among those few to acutally preserver and go beyond your comfort zone and just do what needs to be done?

There are a multitude of books out there that contain thousands of pages helping us would be novelists reach our goals. However, after reading many, many, I've found that there is no real check list or magical concoction out there that will do the trick. You really have to do the work all on your own.

The best 'how to' book on novel writting that I've come across is Walter Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel. It's the shortest book that I've ever read on the topic, yet the most powerfully helpful. It's how I got to my own first 100 pages!

So, if you're having trouble getting there, get the book! Check it out at the library, order it online, whatever. You can read it in an afternoon and actually, while reading it, you'll even wonder at times, "Is this really all that helpful?" It's just so short and sweet and with really big font, that it seems silly in comparison. But then, towards the end, you just get it! And it's an amazing feeling, like magic. You get that confidence that you need to push yourself to find the time, sit down, and write.

So, taking a lead from Mr. Mosley, here are 4 quick easy writing rules to help you conquer that first 100 page hurdle:
  1. All 1st drafts suck!
    Point blank and simple. No one else is going to read it but you, so just write it already!

  2. Don't look back!
    When you sit down to write, very breifly read over a tiny bit of what you last wrote and then MOVE ON. Keep going! Don't reread everything everytime you sit down. That will only cause you to start editing, and editing, and editing. You can edit until you die! So don't do it! Just keep going. How else are you going to get to the end? By keep going over the beginning?

  3. Always Remember Rule #1
    When you sit back and think over what you have written, just remember rule #1. Your first draft WILL suck! sucks! We all know it sucks. Fight every possible urge to go back over it and edit it to death. You will get plenty of opportunities to edit once you have finished.

  4. Write
    Duh! But no, really. Write! If you don't write, you'll never get that first 100 pages done. Write whenever you can. And do it everyday, if you can. The closer to everyday that you can get, the better. Don't just do this on the weekends, or worse, once a month, once a year...once a day is the only way (ooh, I was a poet and didn't know it). Now, don't get upset with me here. Writing, everyday = thinking, writing, day dreaming, and/OR editing. You don't actually have to write to write. KWIM? If you spend time everyday even just thinking about your plot, the characters, what you want to write next time you have a chance...guess what? You are writing! Isn't that way of thinking just so freeing!
So, there you have it! I wish you the BEST of luck in your writing. And know, that once you move past that first 100 page hurdle, the next 100 pages just all of a sudden happens! It did for me. I'm at 276 pages right now and seeing how simple it was once I past that first huge hurdle, I can't wait to write to the end. I hope to have my crappy first draft done in time to bring in the new year! Then, the all encompassing event of editing.

Have FUN writing,