First drafts are my favorite. I don’t usually see a blank page as scary. Instead, it is full of possibility. Maybe it was years of doing Nanowrimo, but I love spitting out stories. My habits when creating something new:
• Don’t worry if you don’t have a plan.
I can’t write from an outline, but sometimes I start something new with no more than a couple words, a character, maybe one scene. In other words, not much. But the page is blank—the freedom is there to do anything at all.
• Write on a schedule.
I tend to write on weekdays, taking weekends off so I can spend more time reading. But when it’s a new story, I work on it every day I’m scheduled to write. Even if I’m at a loss for what comes next. Two hundred words is better than none.
• Do not go back and edit.
When writing without a plan, there are plenty of things that will change in subsequent drafts. Plots change, characters turn out to have a different name, maybe even the time period changes. Leave the old. Make a note of what has to change, but don’t get lost in previous chapters. Keep moving forward.
• Journal after writing.
I always take a minute to write in my journal after working on new fiction. It started as a way to keep track of writing days as I was developing a habit, but has since proven useful. The journal is a spot to make note of changes that have to happen in editing, work out plot problems or write reminders of what needs to happen next.
• Stop before you’re done.
This is a trick of Stephen King (I think). Stop before you’re completely out of ideas. Knowing exactly where to pick up the next day is a huge help in a productive start the next day. This is especially true when writing time is limited. The less time staring at the blinking cursor, the better.
• If boredom sets in, move on.
It’s advice you’ve probably heard before, but if you’re bored, the reader is going to be bored. There are so many stories to tell, I figure I won’t waste my time on something that takes a turn toward the dull. That said, I like to address it when I journal, see if there is anything worth saving, but if not, I just save it to a file and move on. Maybe one day the answer will pop up and I can return to the story. If not, it was good practice.