The Temperamental Writer

Where most people think about the drafts beyond the first one in terms of revising and editing, I think in terms of growing and refining. Does it help, psychologically, to think about writing a novel or story as an organic process? For me, it does. It seems to be my natural way of getting from first draft to last. Maybe that’s why I always have an instant negative reaction to advice that breaks writing down into a method with prescribed steps. But I acknowledge that it’s probably a question of temperament. You revise. I grow and prune. You edit. I refine.

Finishing requires that you find your own way.

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5 thoughts on “The Temperamental Writer

  1. I don’t have any terms for how I work after the initial write, and I definitely don’t have defined steps. I think revising, editiing, growing, pruning, and refining are pretty much the same thing. I write and then I read what I wrote and as I read, I make changes, sometimes little ones like correcting typos or grammatical gaffes, and sometimes a rearrangement of sentence elements or of the sentences in a paragraph, and sometimes cutting out deadwood or making a phrase read more smoothly or adding a sentence. It’s organic, I think. It does just grow. And then sometimes in the shower, or while I’m brushing my teeth, or while I’m trying to go to sleep, something hits me that I don’t like or some new direction or plot element or character refinement comes to mind. Sometimes those are eureka moments – a moment of inspiration! Those are the kind of moments I like best in writing!

    1. I love those eureka moments, which often come when I’m so exhausted that my mind is slipping gears. Bed time is best.

      Of course, all those terms mean the same thing, but their psychological effects can be completely different if someone is having problems with the process.

    1. One in a while, Rik, it’s like a bolt of lightning, but I think it’s usually quite gradual. It happens so slowly you don’t even notice until something brings it to conscious awareness.

  2. After the first draft, I don’t particularly revise or edit. I do this only when I need feedback from a writers group (and definitely not so early in the process). No, I also like changing things around or implementing new ideas or threads until I feel there’s nothing left to add. I suppose that’s my organic process.

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