All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, April 24, 2023

A Little More About Writing, Re-Writing, Editing, and Drafts

Last week, I did a little piece called, "Writing is Awesome! Rewriting, however..." that got a bit of a pushback. No angry hate -mail or anything, but some people discussed their process on writing. Apparently, some people frequently go through the routine of doing some writing, then some editing, then some rewriting then back to some writing and so forth until the entire work is completed. This creates the feeling that when the writing is finally completed, most of the rewriting is already done as well.

I won't say that way it wrong - nothing is wrong if it genuinely works for you - but I will offer a few notes on some potential pitfalls of choosing that process.

The first one that comes to mind is how a story is often an evolving thing that can constantly change even as we create it. We send our characters jumping through their little hoops and enduring all these different trials, and we see them grow as the story progresses. Sometimes (and this is a wonderful thing to behold), we see them change in ways we never expected, and we want to respect this by building upon this as we write. However, if we try to edit and rewrite all along the way, we can interfere with this growth and even stifle its progress simply because we lose the momentum we had gained while writing about this wonderful transformation. 

The other thing that rumbles through my mind is from me own personal experience in putting together a manuscript. It's not a hard and fast rule, but it's simple in its execution: "You don't know the first line of the story until you've written the last line of the story." Only once you create the entire work do you truly know what you have made, and only then do you have enough information to shape the rest of the chapters into something that does that story justice.

I think about one great idea I had for a novel, and I was doing all the work and creating all the supporting characters and such, trying to create a fully fleshed-out world. Something, however, wasn't right. I wrote and rewrote, edited, polished and perfected the pieces I had, but it wasn't coming together. Why? Ultimately, it was because I was still at war with myself about the ending. Without knowing that closing note, I didn't have enough information to shape all the other pieces together so they would lead naturally to that final point. Once I put that last piece in place, I saw how so many other pieces needed to change, and I dove head-first into the rewriting process. I did, however, have to accept that a lot of the rewrites and polishing I had already done was for nothing since they all had to be rewritten anyway.

Lastly, a reminder that editing is not rewriting. Editing is a spell-check pass, running Grammarly, or doing continuity checks. Editing is a rote, mechanical process that shouldn't be done until you have all your pieces in place and everything where you think it should be. Then and only then should you get an editor on the scene to make sure everything you've put into place flows in a properly spelled, grammatically correct, organic manner.

Again, if there's a process that works for you above all others, I would be remiss to call it wrong. However, if you are looking to build that process, I would suggest starting from a simple perspective: You are a writer. Your job is to write. Do the writing first, and once it has all been written, then your job is to rewrite it with an eye toward perfecting it. Wash, rinse, repeat. Give it a try, if only to find out how well it works for you.    

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