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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Frantic Perfectionist - Editing on the Fly

So today was actually pretty exciting writing wise.

I got out of my second period class as there was a play of sorts going on that I was unable to attend. Since class was practically canceled, I jumped at the chance to write for about an hour and a half.

As I'd written on Chapter Ten of TCOH ("Imaginary Chains" is the tittle if you care lol) earlier in the week and forgot to move the file to my jump drive I decided to knock out some of this short story I've been wanting to write.

I sat down, flipped open the outline, decoded my horrible handwriting, and started to write.

I busted out about half a page before the story stalled. This is pretty typical for me when I'm writing a story that I don't have a detailed vision for. Basically, if I don't know the next few chapters, I stall pretty often. My un-stucker is pretty simple--read through what I just wrote.

This is a pretty effective strategy or me, and I know for many of you as well. Just reminding myself of where the story is going, what the pacing actually reads like, etc really helps boost my creativity and drive. It really gets the gears turning. I start seeing new things in the scene, where it could go, what's actually happening. The only downside is....

I start writing wherever I feel like.

Basically, I'm an addictive editor.

I must have added around 200 words before I got back to my original "stalling" point. And after I knocked out a few more paragraphs, I redid the cycle and added a couple hundred more through edits.

I get advice from writers all the time: don't edit on the fly, it slows you down, etc etc. But I disagree. For me, this tactic works.

Now, obviously, I don't go through and fix every grammatical mistake, every vague description, etc. Save that for the editing rounds. But I do go back and smooth things out, add plot details here, mostly I slow things down.

Maybe I just want the story to be perfect and am not willing to wait til it's all finished :-)

What about you? Do you have a problem editing on the fly? Is this effective? Or are you better at just throwing it all out there and sifting through it later?

Let's chat.

To the end,


Squeaks said...

I do a little of both. Sometimes I like to write and write and write...but I usually always end up going back and editing. Other times I'll write a bit and then edit and then writing and continue in that fashion for a while.


Gillian said...

Oh yeah. I always edit on the fly. I've tried writing without editing until I'm done, and I find that I always get discouraged because I'm displeased with what I've written.

I write so much better after I edit a little because then I'm more satisfied with what I've written!

Ian said...

Ugh...I WISH I could just throw out whole sections at once...but when I try to do that, not only do I despise the way I've written, it, but I think that what I've written is just way too boring or ridiculous.

Of course, when I try to edit while writing, everything I say sounds way too exhaustive and dry and not interesting or imaginative at all....*sighs*

Sometimes I just can't win. :P


Eldra said...

And I can't stand even one error in my writing. I'm forever going back and changing everything and anything that catches my fancy. In turn, this often makes it difficult for me to keep moving forward. My brain would rather rework what's already been written. I need to learn to just keep writing.

♥Bleah♥Briann♥ said...

Haha thats awesome. Glad everything is coming along! :) Best of luck...
Can't wait to read something when it's finally complete.


Jake said...

No editing on the fly for me! I'd practically fall apart if I did. I am (to quote whisper) a "persnickety editor". I will NEVER get my writing close to perfect, lol.

Perhaps the thing with me is that I am able to plow through the plot--I try not to stop. There are very few occasions where I go back and edit, and those are all plot-related. :)

Beorn said...

Boy, I don't know how someone could see a typo and not fix it. To me, edits are almost like Easter eggs. You gotta find all of them, and once you find one, you're obviously not going to pass it by. Not to say I like editing, but I just can't stand ignoring a mistake.

Mrs. Ring said...

So who's guiding this horse Don Quixote?

Writers write - everyday. They work it into their schedule and they do it like a job.

Do you ever have trouble focusing?

Reflect on that for me.

Galadriel said...

I edit on the fly more with my short pieces than with my long ones.

Daughter of the King said...

Well, when I am writing, whether it be a blog entry or me fiddling around with ideas for a short novella of sorts I usually go back and read through it over and over again and edit through it. I do not like to just write and write for a long while and then go back in edit. I am a type-a personality, so order and perfection is something I strive for. In other words it takes me forever to write anything!

My bf is a writer and his method is to just write write write and then go back over it and edit...I help him do this process all the time, what with me being his personal editor and what not.

I say do what works for you, Nathan. If it's revising a billion times along the way, then do it, if it's a semi form of both stopping to edit and sometimes pressing through that might work for you too.

I'm glad you got time to write. I've only actually read through a little bit of your writings on the net...and I'd like to read through more when I get the chance.

DOTK (Sarah)

Jessica said...

Editing on the fly is a must for me. To add a small detail I don't want to forget to switch the sentence around, fix taht :D word though not all.

If I sit there too long though I realize how raw it is and start wondering why am I writing this or get swept away with the realization...I am writing this...this is me. Do I like it?

More often than not I just write write write and then edit later. Must pound keys and release my ideas onto the screen in front of me before I lose them to a memory.

Thanks for the awesome thoughts!

Katherine Sophia said...

Yep, I have to edit it while I'm writing. :) And that's exactly how I get back into the story pretty much every time - rereading what I last wrote. Lately it's been more difficult, though, because I've been sending it off to a friend pretty much as soon as it's written and going as hard as I can to finish the story, and then once I've shown it to someone (and am getting closer and closer to done!) I'm not as good at fixing it up. :(
But I liked seeing your post because, yeah, editing while writing really does work for me. :) I can't stand not adding the ideas that come to me. :D

Anonymous said...

I do a little of both. It's just my style, I guess.

I just wanted to encourage you to write whenever you can. Even if it's just a few hundred words, write!! I just passed 20,000 words, and it's mostly been done in little segments. Can't wait to read your book!!!


"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."