When I commenced my first novel I succumbed to the urge to edit each chapter as it was finished, as a first draft. Even worse was the temptation to edit sentences as they were written.
By writing, I mean the creative act of splurging out the first draft, the ideas, and the story. It will be rough, they’ll be some good bits of writing, some excellent. But don’t hang back; the story needs to flow out.
The problem is the two halves of the brain. The right hand side which is creative, intuitive and feeling, the hiding place of the elusive muse. It doesn’t recognise time; it is the mode of processing you are using when an hour feels like five minutes. Then there is the left; analytical, dealing with numbers, critical and logical, cold and unfeeling.
The left brain is a poor cousin to the right when it comes to creativity; it stifles innovation by its critical nature. It is perfectly equipped for editing but not writing.
If you are writing and start to edit, the left brain takes over. OK, no problem, switch back to the right. No, it’s not that easy, the left is dominant, especially in men. Get into the zone, the flow; editing comes much later. Avoid any temptation to change anything, else the left brain will pounce. Immerse yourself in the story; tell it, off the cuff.
By all means, if there is a sentence you’ve forgotten, or a whole paragraph, go back and slot it in, that’ s writing, the ideas, the creative process.
As a final task at the end of writing session, and only at the end, I read what I’ve written. Who can’t resist it? That will give me the ideas for the next session, making a few notes, just a line or two. That way I don’t start off with a read back and get into editing mode.
Stephen King suggests no more than three months for a first draft for these reasons. Whether you are writing full time or part time, it’s worth bearing that in mind.