Every word of your book does not have to be perfect. If you strive for perfection, you'll never publish the book. It some point you have to take a deep breath and plunge in. Publish the book. Readers will be reading for story, not the perfect word.
When you are writing a first draft don't worry about getting the exact word the first time. Keep going. You'll get it in the re-writes. Then it becomes fun trying to find the exact word to express the scene, thought, character. I've even change 'the' to 'a' to get a fine point.
I think the whole idea of writer's block is vastly over rated. I come up sometimes to places in the story that seem like a deadend. Slight panic dances around my fingers as I think that the story is going nowhere. Yes, this happens. But I ask the question: What do I want to know next about this character or about where the story is going? Usually, it get me off dead center and I keep going. Sometimes I just say to myself, just write something. Anything. Dribble. Get off dead center. Write a totally unrelated scene. Write something and write every day.
I have likened the creation of a novel to sculpture. One has a story idea and at first it is more like a blob. Then as one writes, details appear, high and low points occur, the novel takes shape and becomes something tangible. As I was writing this week, I realized how much grammar can help shape the story. I find commas very exciting. I try not to use hyphens and colons. Semi-colons are weak and don't look nice, although Patrick O'brien used them very effectively. Adverbs are the lazy approach to writing. When I am re-writing I try to use adverbs only when they are absolutely essential to the sense of the sentence. I could go on, but learning grammar sometimes takes years of writing. A good novelist knows their grammar.
I have said this before, but it bears reiterating. Don't write thinking your are going to make a living writing, especially not novels. There is little money in novel writing. Write for creativity. It will be much more emotional fulfilling for you. And if you happen to make money in the process, well, that's a little bonus. Write to explore creativity.
Several months ago I connected with my novel buddy, Terry. We meet once a week to read and exchange hard copy of our Works in Progress (WIP). It has been a tremendous help to both of us. Terry was writing the same novel for a long time and not getting very far. She's now written over 100 pages. I am working on a mystery set where I live and since Terry used to write for the local newspaper she has been an invaluable resource for ideas about the local culture and people. She can also see character relationships better than I. I can't emphacize enough how important it is to have a writing partner that you meet with on a weekly basis.
As I was re-writing this week, I realized that there are some pages I don't like, or that I don't find particularly interesting. If I don't like them, how can I expect my readers to like them. Those are going to be the pages the reader will skip, that will take them out of the story and then they put the book down and never finish it. So my advice is: like every page that you write. If not, get rid of it. That said, I will follow my own advice.
I used Jane Kirkpatrick's quote on my home page, that only 1% of the people who say they are going to write a book ever do. That was an eye opener for me and it got me to thinking. When I go to conferences I always like to ask people I meet what they are writing. So often they say, well, I'm writing a novel. But it turns out they've been writing this novel forever. That's why I decided to put together a course called "Finish the Book". In these posts I've tried to describe my writing process and have found it helps others. These posts will be the backbone for the workshop.
I'm a serious writer, meaning I have a regular daily writing habit, and I'm interested in sharing my work through publication. My favorite literary form is the novel. I write to entertain myself and my readers.