|Yeah, I edited these words the next day. You want to fight about it?|
During residency, several of the authors there spoke about their process and I found it greatly differed from my own. They would draft. And then the next day they would edit what the drafted the day before and continue drafting. The thought horrified me. You see, until this past year I've been a terrible revision writer. I spent two years on 30 or so pages, going back and changing and adding things when I felt stuck on the plot, rather than plodding along and actually finishing a novel. 2013 changed that. In 2013 I made myself promise that I would not look back, that I could continue with a draft, regardless of the plot holes and errors that jabbed at my insecurities as a writer, and that I would finish.
And I did. 2013 was the year of the completed manuscript, of the manuscript I'd been trying to write for over ten years. It was ugly and messy and full of tropes but it was done. And now, it's on a shelf. Knowing that I could complete a draft was incredible, probably one of the best feelings in the entire world.
I let myself take a break in December, part burn out from NaNoWriMo, part brain smash of residency, part holiday panic. When I started in again with this new novel, I remembered the method that these critically acclaimed authors used- the draft-revise-draft method. And I tried it.
I realize I might be jinxing myself by saying this, I realize that it could all come crashing down in a pile of weird adverbs, but WHOA. Doing this has allowed me to get back into the voice and carry the momentum I set up before I stopped writing. It has allowed me to fix any weird discovery writing I've done. This draft is more focused. It's tighter than any first draft I've written to date. And I'm really flipping excited about it.
There are rules. I'm not allowed to go beyond a day of editing. So I can edit what I wrote yesterday, but not what I wrote two writing sessions ago. Anything beyond that I have to make notes for later, that way I don't lose control and rewrite the entire thing on a whim.
It may not be a perfect method. It may not work for everyone. But it's working for me. One of the most important things a writer can do is learn his or her method, and let it evolve as it needs to. The experience of writing my next novel will probably be completely different. For now I'll just take each word at a time. And I'll edit the shit out of them.
One day at a time.