As I've developed so far as a novelist, I have repeatedly been reminded - either directly by a writing group or mentor or indirectly through a conversation with someone else or by reading an article - of the most common pieces of advice: "show, don't tell," "character IS action," "everything must move the story forward," "your protagonist must have a need" and "your first draft is going to be junk and don't worry about that because you're going to edit anyway." All of this is good advice and stuff that I passed on in a recent interview I did for The Manila Bulletin (The Philippines' largest daily newspaper) and its Student and Campuses section.
One piece of advice that I heard recently, from Marie Lu, the author of Legend, at a reading and signing in New York takes the 'first draft as junk wisdom' one step further. Not only did she allude to a novel's first draft as being something that will need editing and revision, she also said that new writers should not be afraid to write bad stuff. What she meant - and the other authors in the panel (Beth Revis, Jessica Spotswood and Andrea Cremer) agreed - was for the new writer to write short stories, novellas and even novels that aren't necessarily intended for submission but for the development of the writer and his or her craft. Simply, those pieces of work become practice; the training ground that transforms the person from writing neophyte to author.
It's like running a marathon in The Olympics. You don't just get to The Olympics. You have to train and run shorter races - 5ks and 10ks and half marathons - and even other marathons before running for your country. On race day, the marathon you've run after all that preparation is the best marathon it can be. So, it's just like writing a novel. The finished novel is the best version of that novel it can be. The author's next novel is akin to the runner's next race. With every race under his shoes, the subsequent race is tackled with more experience and, yet, because of a different venue, the changes in weather, the runner's own altered mindset and whatever other bits of wisdom the runner has gained, the new race is a better one but it is still something completely unique experience.
So, new writers, fear not. You have something to say and we, the reading world, want to read it. Just don't rush to get it out. Take your time to make it right and, in doing so, it's okay to get it wrong.