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CelticLady

Restraining from perfectionism in early drafts?

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Posted (edited)

Hello everyone,

 

I can't seem to disregard the impulse to edit as I write, even though I am in the early stages of my novel. I know I should wait until I have a good chunk of the draft finished to edit. I want to make my words just so, now not later and I am not moving forward very much.  It does not help knowing that I will change some of what I have written later anyway. I would welcome any suggestions that might help with this inhibiting trait, at least it is for the present. Later, I am sure it will serve me very well.

 

Thank you.

Edited by CelticLady
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Ah, every writer's bane... 

 

Goal setting and accountability is probably what gets me to ignore the inner critic long enough to complete a draft. So I know that I can comfortably write one scene each day, and that I take Sundays off. That means 6 scenes a week. I then look at where I should be able to finish, reach out to a few friends and ask them to keep checking on me to make sure that I am on target.

 

The key here is setting a goal that is reasonable, but that still requires effort. And to have people who will keep you accountable and who will check on you. 

 

One other major component, I find, is that I need to give myself permission to write a bad draft. I need to tell myself that it's okay to write words that float like a lead balloon and that taste like rotting vegetables. Once I've given myself permission to write something really terrible, I've taken all the pressure off and I can write something that is decent. 

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Editing whilst I write is just my style. That in itself is something I had to stop feeling bad about and had to give myself permission to accept and embrace.

 

That being said, I also tend to write long-hand and then edit and shape as I type it out.

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Posted (edited)

Given that it is impossible to resist the urge to edit while writing, I divide my editing into parts. Some I will do as I write, some I will not, saving it for second draft.

 

1. Keeping on track. I write to an outline. After every few chapters I do a complete read through to make sure I am not deviating from plan. Maybe I change the plan, but I need to make sure I cover all the material for each chapter that I intended.

 

2. Transitions. I make some effort to smooth over transitions between sections and chapters as I write. In my major edits at the end, I will do more of this.

 

3. Concision. This I save for the end. It is a huge time sink. My books are always way too long. Based on experience (when I used to track my editing progress in spreadsheets), it takes at least three times as long to cut a page as it takes to write one.

 

4. Research. I do the major research up front before I write the first word, but more research is always needed in the middle. It is important not to get lost in research.

 

5. Structure. I just wrote a big chapter in my latest WIP - thirty pages. I had writer's block for two days because this section was so complex, I needed to find a clear way to proceed through the argument, and that did not come without struggle. Also, I needed to do some research, because new insights came to me and I had to prove them out. What rescued me was when I found six points to compare and contrast between three Bible passages I was trying to exegete. 

 

6. Personalization. How many personal anecdotes is too many or two few?

 

7. Style. You can always improve your style during the second draft, but this is a huge component of morale. If my style is flat, dull, too serious, impersonal (no life application), then as I reread it, I will hate it and lose confidence that I can write a readable book. Every now and then, I need to strain for something out there. The last chapter I wrote, about Satan's temptations of Eve, Job, and Jesus, I decided to begin with a quote by Donald Rumsfeld. It is both incongruous and relevant, just enough to make the transition interesting.

 

8. Footnotes & Bibliography. Save it for the end. I use partial, inline citations and keep a file with the Hyperlinks or full Bib references to consult at the end.

 

9. Rechaptering. I may do some of this at the end, but if a chapter gets too long, I also get upset. I will split them and restructure as necessary to make them shorter. My new thirty-page chapter is too long. It may get split in two.

 

10. Formatting. I waste a lot of time with indentation, italics, bolding, poetry indents. I can't help it. Fortunately, my text editor has nice named style features. When I write fiction, this is a small issue. In nonfiction, fancy formatting is everywhere.

 

11. Humor. This is part of style, but I have to treat it separately because it comes naturally when I write fiction but not naturally when I write nonfiction. In my current WIP, I may need to take a break and brainstorm how to add more humor.

 

12. New Ideas. I add these to my outline file in the appropriate chapter, then forget about them. New ideas can really slow you down and sidetrack you.

 

That is all that comes to mind. Maybe my problem is that my inner critic gets paid time-and-a-half for overtime.

 

Edited by paulchernoch
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Get swept up by the emotion of the story. Sometimes it comes so fast I leave words out in order to get it all down before the muse leaves. I get excited by what comes out the end of my pen. It's like a high. I can't wait to see what's next. 

The joy of pantsting, I guess. 

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I am just the opposite. I might write every day for a few days, and then skip a few days. My main problem is, when I sit down to write, I can't stop. Six hours feels like two hours. I even forget to eat. By all rights, I should be very thin.

 

When I think of turning off my computer at midnight, something compels me to make just a few more changes. The next thing I notice, it is  2:00 AM.!?! I am yawning at midnight, but by 1:00, 2:00, or later, I am wide awake, so excited about writing, I can't sleep.

 

It is like a high, as mentioned above.

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Interesting the different approaches used.

 

I tend to write and edit as I go along. My usual pattern is to read the previous scene when I start, edit it if needs be and then go on to write new stuff. Once the '1st draft' is done then I do the following:

 

1. Deep clean grammar and spelling.

2. Print off hard copy leave for a week and then read and mark up errors and edits/insertions.

3. Revision using the hard copy.

4. Do a filter word search and grammar check.

5 Print off and do a final check.

6. Send to beta readers.

7. Revise work using BR feedback.

 

This means I do about 8 drafts.

 

 

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Thank you, everyone. With such various styles, I have gotten some gotten some good tips for letting myself edit, but not becoming carried away with. I especially like the idea of having one or two friends that will help make sure I am where I should be. :)

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On ‎6‎/‎30‎/‎2020 at 1:23 AM, CelticLady said:

Hello everyone,

 

I can't seem to disregard the impulse to edit as I write, even though I am in the early stages of my novel. I know I should wait until I have a good chunk of the draft finished to edit. I want to make my words just so, now not later and I am not moving forward very much.  It does not help knowing that I will change some of what I have written later anyway. I would welcome any suggestions that might help with this inhibiting trait, at least it is for the present. Later, I am sure it will serve me very well.

 

Thank you.

 

I say, indulge the impulse for about 15 minutes, then move on.

 

What I generally do is when I start is usually have to read some of the stuff I just wrote before I pick up where I left off.  And I almost always revise something.  It gets me in the groove before I start pounding out the remainder of the story.

 

But in every instance, don't go back and read what you've written until you've run out of creative juice, or until you've set the piece aside for at least an hour.

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16 hours ago, Connie Eberhardt said:

It is like a high, as mentioned above.

 

I call it, "The Rush."

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Give yourself permission to edit only at certain times. For example, Jerry Jenkins writes one day, then the next day he edits what he wrote yesterday. If need be, talk to yourself. "Thanks, Mr. Editor, but I'm writing now. You can take the day off. I'll call you tomorrow." (Sounds silly, but it works! Do whatever you can to stifle the editor in you while you're rushing to get ideas out of your head.)

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Wow, @CelticLady, I never knew there was so much work involved in not editing while you're writing!  There are suggestions upon suggestions.

 

I just generally keep on writing, and edit it later, but, honestly, if it works for you to edit as you go along, you should keep doing it.  It'll all come out in the wash.   Seriously, if you edit as you go, or you edit at the end, doesn't it take about the same length of time?

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19 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

doesn't it take about the same length of time?

Let's not get mathematical and logical about this, SW.

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Competing in NaNoWriMo fixed that for me. It's like a switch in my brain. When I'm writing a draft, I'm dealing with conceptual things and I try to get them down in whatever raw Draft condition, and stopping to edit myself pulls me out of that creative state. I've seen mega blockbuster authors say the same thing. I know when I sit down the goal is word-count, not perfection. Editing is a different skill and I put on my editor's hat after I write a complete Draft.

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All the excellent advice offered on writing your first draft, and editing later has really helped me write my latest narrative in only a few hours in a single day. This is a record for me, although the word count is only at 600. I would spend spend hours writing and re-writing my first draft before I had even completed the story. It is much easier to, "Put on my editor's hat," (thanks Johne) the next day with clear eyes.

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