The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received

by Rosanna Cappelluti

National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, is in full swing and as most of you know, reaching that fifty-thousand word count goal within thirty days is no easy feat. As someone who decided to take on the challenge for the first time, I wanted to share a piece of advice that I received from a dear writer friend that immediately changed my view on tackling the completion of that first draft of a novel.

I have been working on my romance novel for over a year and after planning out all the details to launch the writing of the story, I completed chapter one and never moved past it. Each time I came back to my story, instead of moving forward with new content, I revised and revised some more until I realized the only chapter I had completed, twelve months later, was chapter one. It had become both my biggest advocate and my biggest nemesis. How could I possibly create a romantic moment between the heroine and hero in chapter ten if I wasn’t sure where they would go from chapter one? And even though I had heard the saying, “just write the first draft without revising,” I was nonetheless overwhelmed with getting there.

In the middle of debating whether to enroll in the NaNoWriMo challenge, my writer friend advised a method so brilliant and simple. Since I am used to writing in a linear format- what comes first, second, third and last- she suggested that I deviate from my usual style and write all the scenes regardless of placement. The goal was to free write all the moments I was excited to tell my reader about and worry about placing them in linear order in the revision stage. It worked. In an instant I had jotted down two scenes and didn’t feel restricted to make sure it made sense from the previous scene.

My friend had no idea the impact she had on me that day as she casually offered her advice. However, it was exactly what I needed to hear to get the writing juices going which in turn created confidence that I could reach my goal. Don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is the perfect platform to create that awful first draft anyways so there is even less pressure to writing that daunting scene that just doesn’t seem to make sense even after spending hours on it.

I hope this piece of advice will inspire you to pick up that manuscript you’ve been putting off and finally complete that first draft. Whether it is for NaNoWriMo or for any month, start with free writing and see where it takes you. My own piece of advice is to try different writing techniques that you may not necessarily be comfortable with, but that may just be what you need to unlock your creativity.

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