Write Quickly, Revise Slowly

Notice the “ly” words in the title? Those wouldn’t make it past most writer’s editorial eyes. Yet several students have asked, “You keep telling us to ‘junk it through,’ yet you also give suggestions for editing. How can we do both?”
Writing Tip for Today: In a word, the answer is, don’t. Here’s why:

  • Avoid short-circuiting your process. Most of us know that creativity comes mostly from “right brain” activities. “Left brain” activities favor analysis and logic. If you try to edit as you write (at least until you develop some skills) you short circuit the process. Like opposing magnets, the two often cancel each out.
  • Separating creating from editing gives objective distance. If you allow what you crank out to sit a day or two (at least) you will be more likely to return to editing with a more objective attitude, so necessary for effective editing.
  • Kick Rules to the Curb, Then Kill the Darlings. After your piece gestates a while, you can edit with the cold eye of editors. When you are creating, put the editor in a closet and lock it. When you’re editing, you can think about all those “rules” I’m always on about. Never try to accomplish both at once until your skill level is fairly high. This means lots of practice–get busy producing those words. You may decide to create one session and edit the next or create in the morning, edit (something else) that afternoon. Just keep junking it through (and have FUN!), and don’t try to edit yourself while you’re junking. ‘Nuff said.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Write Quickly, Revise Slowly

  1. This is why I love NaNoWriMo. Writing the first draft in 30 days means you have to ignore the internal editor and get the words on the page.

    I’ve found that since I started participating in NaNoWriMo, my first drafts are far better than they were and revision is much easier.

  2. Excellent! Yay, NaNoWriMo! While we’re waiting for November, why couldn’t we just give ourselves similar deadlines for chapters and scenes? Even if you’re a “plotter” not a “pantster,” you can write the section you’re on with abandon. Come back to it later and check to see if it’s what your outline says. It may be even better than you first imagined. ~Linda

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