Boy with a Hat has a fantastic blog post on Bad Habits for a Novelist, Gentle Reader, that you should go and read forthwith.
I am a patient soul. I can wait.
While I agree with the second half of his list, I do have to disagree with #1 and #2, specifically in that I have seen what not reading other writers can do to young writers and their writerly voices. They become claustrophobic, too trapped in their own ideas and their own heads. I disagree with encouraging them not to read because they won’t know how to distinguish their voice from someone else’s. I think they should read as much as they can so that they can distinguish their voice. I cannot personally read the genre of what I am writing when I’m writing it–no sci fi when I’m writing sci fi, no YA when I’m writing YA–but I read. All the time. I have a Ph.D. in English and it wasn’t until I had saturated myself in books that I knew what my voice finally was.
But yes, there comes a point when research overwhelms someone and prevents you from writing.
Just write. Every day. Don’t be afraid to rewrite. Don’t be afraid to delete and restart and change and beat it up and put it back together again.
Don’t forget to put it in a drawer for six months. Get critical distance.
Save your research for then.
Don’t start the sequel the day after you finish the first novel. Take a breather. Try writing a completely new genre.
Style not working? Move narrative voice. Shift the focus. Go from first- to third-person POV.
I am verbose today, Friends! This post may not be my last after all.
Like what you’ve read? Visit my website at The Life and Times of the Postmodern Bluestocking.