Monday, July 9, 2012

Drafts vs Edits

I’m sure you’ve all been where I am right now:

I have this manuscript that I keep thinking is done but then I get feedback on it, and it’s back to work on the manuscript. This is problematic because, well, I started querying with project (you know, when I thought it was “done”) and because I’ve already started my next work in progress. Not being able to work on my shiny new idea is problematic because that’s what I LOVE RIGHT NOW! Not being able to hand over my sparkly now-with-more-polish manuscript, that’d cause issues with agents (if you’re an agent and reading this, don’t worry, it’s been finished; this is a retrospective piece).

And that dichotomy of problems really sums up my writing right now. I write first drafts because I absolutely, positively, without a doubt will explode if I don’t get to write my stories. No seriously, I’ve always talked about how I don’t write a first draft until I feel like I’m going cross eyed trying not to write it. I write because I love it; because I have to: because I couldn’t live with crazy me, the one who doesn’t write. I write for me.

Editing… well, that’s a bit different. I don’t like editing. Well, I don’t like editing the way I passionately love telling a story. There are parts of editing that I don’t mind. Like when I go through a scene in the first draft and I know it didn’t work, so I rewrite it from scratch. Usually those turn out much better when I’ve had an opportunity to think about them. No, the part of editing that I hate are all the ways I’ve been a moron. I hate that about editing. It’s like before I can edit I have to really truly accept that I might have crutches that I lean on in my first drafts, that I might be human and full of bad grammar. I’m a bad speller and I can’t keep my tenses straight. My comma placement? Atrocious.

Seeing all of these issues with my writing is absolute torture. I’d rather do anything than comb through my work and find paragraphs where I’ve swapped from present to past to present again. Or worse, read through and find where someone else had to point it out to me first because I was too lazy to find it on my own (OMG, Thank you awesome CPs, you rule).

And really, this boils down to the whole thing that people have been blogging about lately, writing for fun and writing for publication. See, I could be a writer without all that grueling editing stuff. But as you might have guessed from the mention of agents, writing isn’t the extent of my goals. If I just wanted to write for me, then I’d be done. I’d be more than ten novels into my writing for myself career. That’s not what I want. I want to share my stories with the world. I want other people to be able to read my work and relate, or, my not so secret hope and desire, be able to read my work and say ‘I thought I was the only one’ and feel that the world isn’t as terrible and lonely as it was before my story.

But if I want to get my books to other people, I have to edit. Edit. Edit. Revise. Edit. Edit. I think you get the picture.

So to sum up: I write for me. I edit for publishing. Where are you on that scale? I’d love to hear from the avid editors and the first draft for the win (FDFTW).


  1. You can overdo the editing. The best advice I was ever given was polish it as much as possible, then let it go. No matter how much you edit, the agent and publishers will always edit some more.

    1. Oh yeah, that's a very good point, and I like that idea. My problem is that I get impatient, and that's what this most recent edit was for. I had a real mistake that I had to fix. So frustrating. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I find that I am the exact opposite. I like to draft, don't get me wrong! But what I really love is a finished first draft that I can polish until it shines. That's the part I love. I'm actually one of those writers that has a hard time getting my butt in the chair during first drafts. Come revision time, it's hard to tear me away!

  3. I'm with you... editing is not my favourite thing in the world, mainly because it never seems to end. I prefer to stay in story telling mode:)

  4. I write in layers. The first draft is the bare bones of the story, and subsequent drafts add more detail/reword sentences etc. So for me they are both part of the same process.

  5. i'm over editing, now querying, using cp's, in a while i will edit and do this all again, but now i am excited to work on something new!

    agree w/write for me, edit for pub =)


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