Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jumping the tracks

With my NaNo novel written, and my other WIP finished just before November, I'm now in total edit and revise mode. Let me tell ya, I don't like it. What I like most about writing is the act of creation. Coming up with a story, imbuing life in characters, figuring out where it all goes. Then the writing of the idea - putting words down on paper that flesh out and complete my stories. That's all good. The polishing and refining - not so much.

I know that editing is an essential part of writing. I know that my rough drafts are just that: rough. I do want to make them better. Lack of desire is not the problem. I can even see my own mistakes. I often read things and realize that they don't work. I have no emotional attachment to them and don't care if they get chopped to bits. But I find it incredibly hard to actually make changes.

I think the problem is that once I write something it gets set in my mind. That's just the way it is. It's really hard for me to picture anything different. It's like when they switched from Dick York to Dick Sargent on Bewitched. Sargent did a fine job, maybe even better job, but York was in your head. [curious to see who gets this reference - it's actually way before even my time :-)]

It's not just ideas but individual words that stick in my brain. When I'm writing I can come up with a variety of ways to say something and pull out the thesaurus to get just the right description. But once it's down on paper, my mind blanks on changing it. It is what it is.

So how do I overcome this? I've found a couple things that help. First, it's often easier for someone else to derail you (that's a good thing in this situation). Have a critique partner that throws out a new idea, or even just a specific reason why the current one isn't right. It gets your brain going in a new direction. Even if you don't do exactly what they suggest it can get the creative juices flowing.

What if you don't get any suggestion of where to go, just the knowledge that you're heading down the wrong track? That's harder. For me it takes a lot of brainstorming. A lot of sitting and thinking - or better yet, walking and thinking. I throw a lot of random thoughts out and most of them are worse. But if I keep trying I generally find something that fits. There's that eureka moment when you land on a new track and the path is clear. Then I get to start writing again, creating something new and different. And that's the fun part.


  1. Oh goodness, this is me. I LOVE drafting. Revision, eh, not so much. Though I know my stuff needs it, it's just so harder to get excited about it.

  2. Excellent advice...especially the critique partner thing. I'd die without her!!!

  3. Hi Blaire--just makin' the rounds to say Happy Holidays. I hope you have a great holiday week and have a happy New Year :D

  4. I like to put a chunk of time in between my first draft and the next one. It's nice if I have two books going, so while the rough cools I can start working on my query package or the draft of another MS or agent hunting (my new standard system). When I get back to my rough it always looks different from before, but not as different as, say, a year later when I'm much more likely to view the story as it really is on the page and not blur it with strong, mental images of how I think it is. But that only happens if I've shelved it.