I once attended a workshop, which was run by the wonderful children's writer, Linda Kempton (http://tracearchive.ntu.ac.uk/em/directory/k.htm) where she told us to: 'Allow yourself a bad first draft.'
It was one of those Eureka moments for many of us and it's advice that has stayed with me.
How bad should a 'bad first draft' be? I struggle with the concept, I have to say. I guess it's the perfectionist in me. I have shaped and honed my prose in the first few chapters of my novel. I continue to go back to those chapters to fiddle and fine tune. But, just how useful is this when I haven't even finished the first draft of this blessed novel?
It's all getting a bit messy. Messy is good, I guess, because it's a 'bad first draft'. The further I go with this project, the messier it gets. I'm in danger of getting myself in a right royal muddle, as I can now see that some characters could be dispensed with altogether or that two characters could be moulded into one. I've killed two people off early on and now wonder if they should still be alive. Perhaps that would make things more interesting? Is this really a crime novel at all? Is it more of a mystery/thriller? Yes, probably. Can I write the police procedure stuff? No. Do I want to? No. Is my detective that important? Probably not, but I do love the character I've created. He is so flawed, it's untrue. Can I have an incompetent detective who doesn't really solve anything at all? I guess I could. Can the mystery be solved, but not the crime? At the moment, this novel raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps all will become clear at the end.
I'll just plough on regardless. After all, it's only a first draft and a bad one at that.