Paralysed by book of advice for authors

Thank you all for your thoughts and advice. I know we always focus on the bits that chime with what we want to hear, but I like Trip’s suggestion just to write, and then worry later about whether it works or not. And also the idea about alternating chapters is one I had considered and may well try.
The writing is actually going well (I discovered the Scrivener word count feature the other day and was astonished to find that I have written 42k words - surely not!), so it’s full steam ahead to get the first draft finished.
Mind you - and I know you’ll all say that’s what the imagination is for - I’m finding it tricky in the current heatwave to write convincingly about my character’s winter weeks in a freezing cell in Newgate! Perhaps I should sit with my feet in a bucket of ice to recreate that chilblain feeling.
And I have resolved to Stay Away from the self-help shelves in the bookshops. They just make me uneasy anyway (perhaps I do have depression? marital difficulties? irritable bowel syndrome? - but I felt fine until I reached this bookshelf…).

A little guidance like ‘try not to bore me with the details’ is okay, but don’t let anyone’s book on ‘what not to do’ stunt your imagination. Get to writing or you’ll never finish that book.

Very late to the party on this one (in fact, it looks as though the floor has already been hosed down and the empties taken to the recycling point)…

I read Mittelmark and Newman’s How Not to Write a Novel yesterday. If I tell you that I was enduring an enforced stay in a Premier Inn in a desolate car park on the outskirts of an industrial town, in what might have been the Midlands or possibly South Yorkshire (I’m never very sure where one stops and the other starts), you will understand that I was not in the mood to be amused. But it actually made me laugh out loud, more than once. Very entertaining. The book has been languishing, unread, on my Kindle since November 2010, and I’m glad that I finally got round to blowing the digital dust off it. It does make many serious points, and at one stage a sense of shamed recognition crept over me with regard to a piece of writing I am [supposed to be] working on now. But mostly it is just good fun.

My instinctive, independent approach to the unpublishable novel has been quite successful, in a quiet sort of way, but it seems weak and half-hearted now that my eyes have been opened to just how unpublishable an unpublishable novel can be if you know how to go about it.

The best advice I ever got on applying advice for writers was this:

“How does it let you tell your story better?”

If you know the answer to that, then you know whether to heed or ignore the advice.

Character backstory? As others have said, you may have it all in mind, but it probably enhances the story better by being spread out to enhance dialogue or action.

Multiple viewpoints? What does each viewpoint allow you to tell in the story that you can’t tell or reveal in some other way? Does it need to be revealed at that time?

The goal is to be thinking about the rules. They’re not really rules, they’re best practices – default settings that in most cases help keep writers out of trouble. But every best practice has situations where it isn’t the best practice…and by thinking about the rules and the story you’re trying to tell, you can figure out when those times are.

I think “all is conflict”. If backstory is one side of a conflict, then it’s in. If childhood is a force in a conflict, then that’s in too.