To Plow or to Edit?
|This depicts literal plowing. I am,|
of course, referring to a figurative,
I spoke to a fellow writer years ago, and he felt that it’s much better to finish your work in progress first, without stopping. The editing, re-reading, and adding on to each scene came later, in his opinion. He believed that a writer loses sight of their story when they stop to edit as they write. In his opinion, finishing the work is the most important goal, and exerting editing effort on a first draft is a waste of time.
Another writer friend says she cannot move forward with a scene when it is choppy and unedited. Knowing that a scene isn’t strong bothers her and makes her less productive. In her opinion, even first drafts should have some literary merit.
I tried both of these approaches over a six day period to decide for myself.
For the first three days, I didn’t edit my work. Not even once. I pushed forward, doing my best to stay focused. I wrote. I wrote a LOT. In three days, I managed to add about a two-thousand words a day, which is very productive for me.
Still on a production high, I entered the next three days with enthusiasm. This time, I stopped after every page and re-read my work, making changes, adding details and rewriting sentences. I was lucky if I finished five-hundred words a day during this period, but I certainly had a strong sense of my characters and plot.
While it may sound like writing without stopping was the better choice, I found that revising as I went was the more satisfying experience. Even though I was productive when I wrote without stopping, I felt less content with my product. At the end of each day, I was left with a feeling of unease, hyper-aware that what I had composed was, for lack of a better word, uneven. On days where I took the time to revise, I felt complete. When I started writing the next day, I was able to look back on the previous day’s work with a sense of fulfillment.
For me, slow, steady, and meticulous was the way to go. I do see how finishing your work quickly can bring a sense of gratification, but paying attention to detail helped me create a more effective story.
So what do you think, lovely readers? Plow through, or pay attention to detail? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Bethany Masone Harar is an author, teacher, and blogger, who does her best to turn reluctant readers into voracious, book-reading nerds. Check out her blog here.