It’s very easy to get bogged down or distracted by all the “fun” stuff that comes before the writing itself: drawing maps, designing worlds, developing characters, finding or making pretty art to inspire you or remind yourself what your characters look like…
The list of potential procrastinatory issues is endless and it can be very difficult to tell when you’re legitimately developing and planning the building blocks of a book versus when you’re dodging the actual job of writing.
I’ve had multiple conversations with my friend where I try to help him with his novel and my advice usually boils down to two little words:
Sit yourself down and ask yourself: do you really need this thing you’re spending hours on? Do you really need to know the ins and outs of brain surgery to write this scene? Do you really need to know what kind of noise the fridge makes or what colour your character’s eyes are?
Some of it, you’ll answer “yes”. If your book is about a doctor who performs brain surgery on someone, you need to know at least the basics. (You can research more in depth later when you’ve actually written a scene to revise.)
Some of it is an obvious “no”. Eye colour might matter when you’re describing your characters to your readers, but it (usually) doesn’t make any difference to the story and so it doesn’t make any difference to you now. What shoes a character wears also doesn’t matter unless your spy notices that his waitress is out of place because she’s wearing heels a la xXx. A noisy fridge isn’t important, either — unless it’s a sign of the impending apocalypse (links to YouTube).
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You can fix them or go into detail later. Worry more about the writing. There’s no point fretting about how your world’s economy works if your characters never leave their home town, or spending days finding the perfect name for a cult of priestesses if they never make an appearance. (If you’re anything like me, you’ll have changed their names at least half a dozen times by the end of your second draft, anyway.)
If you feel yourself getting bogged down in detail or distracted by Facebook, sit back and remember:
And to help with that, here’s a free wallpaper for your iPad! ;D