I wrote a story a couple of weeks ago inspired by Scott Myers, a Hollywood screenwriter, from an interview he gave with a member of the Willamette Writers organization in Portland. It was posted to the Inside Willamette Writers Facebook group. You can see it here. The interview with Scott dealt with character development, particularly as it relates to screenwriting, but I found some wisdom in what he said that applies to novel writing as well.
My story, The Interview, came to me almost fully formed. The question it answers is: “How could a struggling newbie novelist like me overcome a severe case of writer’s block?” The story will be published in September in THE STARDUST REVIEW, an online literary magazine. I will post the story’s URL on this website and on my Facebook page when it comes out
So far, writer’s block has not been a problem for me. I have been able to tweak my imagination sufficiently every time I sit down to write to produce something, if only what Anne Lamott coined “a shitty first draft”, the prerequisite for any masterpiece.
Too many writers, especially beginners, I believe, set too high a bar for themselves. Somehow we convince ourselves that every word appearing on the page must be the precise word for that moment. You and I both know that’s not so, but we try for perfection anyway.
A better appproach to a “shitty first draft” is similar to one you would need to write something to a prompt for fifteen minutes. Pour out the words as fast as you can on whatever recording device you use. Of course, unlike a writing prompt, you don’t need to time yourself, but it is a good idea to set a goal of some kind. Perhaps you have a daily goal of one thousand words (about four or five pages). Crank those out even if its gibberish at first. Later, you can go back and improve what you wrote.
I have now misled you into thinking that The Interview is about writing a “shitty first draft” It’s not. It has, if I might be so bold, far more character than that.