There is no good self-help for this, no good how-to. If I was building a chair, for instance, there'd be instructions. There'd be diagrams with little arrows and the steps might even be numbered. When you learn to play an instrument, too, there are instructions. It's called method. There are many methods of course, but you pick one. And then you learn.
So why not with writing? I have a dozen how-to-write books.... and none of them are helping!
The best "how-to" I've found so far is from Teach Yourself... Writing a Novel by Nigel Watts * (from the Teach Yourself series). Nevermind that you don't know who Nigel Watts is, so how can his advice be any good. This is the advice (buried in the "Editing and Shaping" chapter):
Let yourself write what you want to write -- no holds barred.
Then this morning in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird * I found this (on page 85 of my paperback)
My students assume that when well-respected writers sit down to write their books, they know pretty much what is going to happen because they've outlined most of the plot, and this is why their books turn out so beautifully... Well. I do not know anyone fitting that description at all. Everyone I know flails around, kvetching and growing despondent, on the way to finding a plot and structure that work.
So, all right then. Flailing and kvetching. No holds barred.
I'm more determined than ever to document this process (sorry, dear Readers). But if nothing else, it must be clear that there is a way to do this and it isn't all mystic and hoo-ha... It is not exotic or esoteric.... It is art and it is craft and I'm going to figure it out and while I'm doing it, tell you about it.
* I get nothing from linking to Amazon btw, or from these authors.... the link is there for reference, clarity and your convenience only