Follow the headlights.
(This tip was copied from the Literary Hub)
It doesn’t matter if you’re the kind of writer who plans meticulously: Give yourself some leeway in the early drafts. Throw out all your plans and assumptions, and make room to surprise yourself.
Andre Dubus calls this following the headlights: it’s like driving a car down a dark, unfamiliar road, simply describing as things become visible under the beam. “What’s on the side of the road?” he asked. “What’s the weather? What are the sounds? If I capture the experience all along the way, the structure starts to reveal itself. My guiding force and principle for shaping the story are just to follow the headlights—that’s how the architecture is revealed.”
Dozens of writers have told me some version of the same story. “The writing I tend to think of as ‘good’ is good because it’s mysterious,” Aimee Bender said. “It tends to happen when I get out of the way—when I let go a little bit, I surprise myself.”