GOOD ADVICE THAT I HAVE COMPLETELY IGNORED:
"Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote . . ."---Will Self
"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word."---Margaret Atwood
"Write drunk; edit sober."---Ernest Hemingway
"Well, crud. That paragraph I just wrote is crap. Hold everything . . . gotta fix it RIGHT NOW! Oh yeah, and that sentence too. Can't I figure out a better word here? Where's the damn thesaurus? Oh look! A squirrel!"
WHY MY REACTION SUCKS:
Constant editing dams up the creative process, turning a torrent of ideas into a hesitant trickle. When I'm struck by inspiration, I should be riding the wave, splashing words onto the screen. Instead, I'm constantly back-spacing, fixing misspelled words, bad punctuation, garbled phrasing, you name it. All of these things can be corrected later. After all, if I spotted it now, I'll certainly see it in the rewrites.
Not only do I spot-edit, I also tend to write and rewrite the same chapter over and over before continuing on to the next. This is just plain dumb. I have spent hours polishing the perfect scene, only to completely change it later, or even discard it. Until the first draft is finished, I have only the vaguest notion where the book is going. Characters may evolve, or even disappear. Action occurring later in the book may render that earlier chapter ridiculous. It's kind of like building a house: you'd better get the foundation, wiring, and plumbing finished before you decorate the room.
WHAT I'M GONNA DO ABOUT IT:
Ooh, this will be a tough habit to break. Even in my art, I usually eschew the common practice of under-painting, preferring to finish each section before moving on to the next. It works well for me, requiring just a little touch-up at the end. But painting is entirely different from writing in that I KNOW what the finished artwork should look like. It may sound weird, but my stories change as the characters come to life (definitely a subject for a later blog post!).
It will take constant effort for me to just write, muting my internal editor. Even now, I keep scanning back on what I've written, correcting it before continuing. Well, guess what? There's an app for that! ILYS is a word processing tool that only shows you the last letter you wrote. No options but to keep typing until you hit your selected word count. I'll download it and let you know how it goes.
I'll probably cringe when I go back to read my stream-of-consciousness prose, but I'll keep in mind that golden nugget of wisdom imparted by Mr. Ernest Hemingway: "The first draft of anything is shit."
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Lori Brietzke is a writer/artist currently living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.