This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Despite writing to you every week with nuggets of writerly wisdom, I think it's important to say that I'm not offering a set of rules or instructions. In fact, if anyone does claim that their particular method is the One True Path, then I respectfully suggest that you run in the opposite direction.
There's no right way to write a novel. It's all about figuring out your own process (and trying not to lose your mind when you realise that process might differ from book to book).
Also, the end result is the thing. Once you have a finished book, nobody needs to know that you wrote the first draft in Alphabetti Spaghetti or that the main character was originally a fish.
It's important to remember that nobody knows anything. Or, more accurately, each writer only knows what has/has not worked for them. I am slightly addicted to reading writing advice but I also believe that you should tread lightly. Take (or try) the things that 'chime' with you and ignore the stuff that doesn't. And if a piece of advice sounds good but doesn't work for you, don't worry about it. Just try another approach. Or another day. Or another book.
This goes for craft advice, too. There are lots of helpful guidelines which will make your work more readable, but you don't have to blindly stick to every single one, every single time. Apart from anything else, it will make you incredibly bitter when an author that breaks all of the rules races up the bestseller charts…
However, I do think it's good to learn about the craft of writing so that when you decide to break a so-called 'rule', you do so deliberately and with purpose.
A final word of caution. I love reading writing advice. Mainly, of course, because reading is approximately a million times easier than writing. Sometimes the best (and most apt) writing advice is this:
You're ready. Just write.