I’ve started to come to the conclusion that writing is a fight against all your natural instincts. We’re basically apes, not built for writing long novels. Or anything for that matter. We’re built for hunting and gathering on the Savannah, not the intellectual hunting and gathering that comes with writing novels. We have to fight ourselves a little bit to get the work out.
It’s so easy to lose focus while you’re writing that all-too-precious first draft. Your brain will play tricks on you, and give you lots of reasons to stop mid flow, and rework what you’re doing.
It’s so hard to fight that, but you really must. You need to concentrate on the STORY, don’t get too hung up on grammar and spelling. That’s not an invitation to be totally sloppy, but don’t get every last sentence totally perfect.
It’s a temptation for some to create their final draft while writing the first. I understand that because you don’t want to create extra work for yourself later on. It’s probably one of the most common faults that a writer has.
But you’ll write yourself into a corner if you do this. If you’re really struggling with powering through the first draft, and find that you’re always stopping at every other word to make a correction, why not try this: set a goal that, say, every 250 words, you’re going to let yourself stop, and look back at what you’ve re-written, and so just a little clean up. A little, not a lot.
Then you have to do at least another 250 words before you can stop and “tidy up” again. If you’re someone who stops mid-flow all the time, this might help you.
Me? I’m guilty of going the other way and being too content with the sloppiness, but we each have our own crosses to bear!