What have I learned so far?
#1 - Plan out the whole novel. I'm telling you this because I didn't. I had a great idea, a fairly strong beginning, one good scene, and the wrap up after the murderer is revealed. I couldn't ever get an entire outline planned out because I could not come up with one. I know that sounds silly from someone who wants to be a writer, but I could not come up with good ideas to hide the murderer's identity and to have my protagonist slowly uncover clues while chasing red herrings. Now I am knee-deep in the middle of the book trying to wade to the other side.
Let me say it again.
Plan it out! Don't even listen to the whole Plotter vs. Pantser thing. Just do it!
#2 - I love word sprints! I am a slow writer...a S L O W writer. I think and rethink. I write a few paragraphs and go back to reread. I edit as I read.
Yes, I've read the books on writing a first draft and how to leave the inner critic locked up until you're done. I didn't buy it, though. That is until today. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) occurs in November, and I have played along for several years without success. Camp NaNoWriMo is happening right now in the month of April. I happened to listen to a virtual "Write-In" where the hosts were doing word sprints along with the audience. I have heard about word sprints as long as I've been a WriMo, but I had never done one. I decided last night that I would sprint - write for 20 minutes without stopping, editing, or overthinking. I did another one this morning.
The outcome - I've written more in 40 minutes than I have the rest of the month. It was not a lot, but it broke something loose. Maybe there is something to all of the advice out there. :)