Monday, July 6, 2009

Just do it…

Yes it was a popular marketing slogan a few years back but very few days pass where I don’t try to use it as motivation. Every time I sit on the couch and think I need to go for a run or walk. Every time I need to clean my kitchen. Every time I need to fold all of the socks in my laundry basket that have been sitting in my room for a week. Every time I look at my sewing basket where clothes sit until my daughter has out grown them. Sometimes I get up and do what I’m thinking about. Unfortunately there are lots of times where I don’t.

Last week I realized I’ve been avoiding, forgetting about the Just do it slogan. I had written a chapter and a half for my next book about a year ago. Instead of progressing further I would go back and edit chapter one or do some research or just do nothing.

Finally I put the pedal to the medal and finished chapter 2. In the end it wasn’t that hard. Sure I’m going to have to go back and edit but at least now I have some words on the paper.

But…

This brings me to my question or dilemma for the day.

Is it better to a) write a chapter then go back and edit, making it the best you can before moving on to the next chapter or b) finish the book before you begin to edit.

I have to say I’m torn. Knowing how much editing I had to do for book one, part of me what’s to make the chapter the best I can before moving on but I also realize that just getting words on paper is half the battle.

What do you think?

12 comments:

Lazy Writer said...

I am also torn about this. I wrote my first book straight through and then went back and edited it. But this time around, I am editing as I go. Not sure which one is better.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I am trying NOT to edit as I go because it slows me down too much. Once on Pubrants I read that your rough draft isn't good enough to show your dog. If an agent expects a rough draft to be awful then maybe it should just be awful. I am trying to get through this book without looking back, and in the end, it is going to be horrible. But that's okay because it will be done, and then I can make it better. But then again, you have actually finished a book so that may not be your main motivation for completing the rough draft before editing.

Heidi said...

First: Love the new blog template. Very cute!

Second: Love the slogan. that was one of the most brilliant marketing slogans ever.

To the question, though: In my own opinion, getting the words down is the hardest. It's so easy to get stuck writing and rewriting that first chapter, or second chapter... and then if you finally get around to finishing the book, you end up having to fix the firs chapters anyway.

My motto is: Keep moving forward.

When I wallow over the words I've written, I get less words written. Last book, when I opened the file I would reread only the last paragraph of two and then start writing new.

I think it's more a psychological thing. I get frustrated if I never get past 2000 words. But if I'm moving along and the pages are piling up, I feel like I'm doing something. And if its all crap, I know I can go back later and make it better - since no matter how much time I spend on a chapter I'm going to have to do that at the end anyway.

Patti said...

LW: It's hard to resist editing as you go, knowing how much is hard work it is to edit afterwards.

Jessie: I've also heard that it's better to write crap than nothing at all.

Heidi: I agree

Although it's hard not to get bogged down in editing past chapters that's just what it might be bogged down. Then you never get out and on to something new.

Mim said...

Personally I think that your first draft, you should just get your words out there. The flow, the rhythm and plot are the things that move your story, and they need to flow out in a natural manner.

I've seen so many writers, in writers groups and other places that just keep going back to fix this and fix that. And they often take out the exciting parts that move the story forward for better or different language choices. Or the plot gets dragged down, and becomes constipated.

Just get the words out there, don't worry about perfection until you finish that first draft.

Now on my revisions I am taking the time to make sure each chapter is perfect before I move on. And it takes a lot of time, but I'm not worried that I'm ruining the story, because I've got my rhythm and plot down. It's there and it works.

My next book I've written one and a half chapters for, and I've thought of things to fix in the first chapter already. But I'm not--I want the rhythm, to be right, and I think that comes in writing it in one go.

That's just my opinion. Loved this post!

jenniferneri said...

I think that each writer is different. I know a few writers who cannot move forward until each sentence is perfect. Others do some editing along the way, but not too too much. Personally, I cannot write and edit. I need to get the story told. Only then can I work on its structure. I cannot break my thoughts away long enough to edit - I have tried. It doesn't feel right. Once the story exists in its completion I want to polish it, I want it to shine.

Patti said...

All great comments. It's amazing how different we all are in some areas and how alike we are in others.

strugglingwriter said...

I guess I go back and forth. I think getting the thing done works better for me. Otherwise I get bogged down in the constant rewrites and never reach "The End".

Holly Kennedy said...

Every writer is different in this sense -- or at least that's what I've run across.

I do both, leaning towards perfecting chapter after chapter before moving on. However, I GET THE JOB DONE much faster when I push that tendency aside and JUST DO IT so I think you're definitely on the right track :)

Holly Kennedy said...

P.S. Nice update on your blog background!

Dara said...

I also struggle between these two. I have to edit my chapters before I submit them for critique group. But I try to avoid editing my chapters until they are up for critique. It doesn't always work...

I wish there was a NaNo type thing every month; I've found that was the best way for me to get anything written. I've tried it on my own but for some reason it's just not the same...

owlandsparrow said...

I prefer to write as much as I can without editing, then go back and read what I wrote. After much picking through it, I try to deepen my characters, and in the process, I find my entire plot has deepened as a result. In my first read-through, I notice so many things I forgot about but must have existed in my subconscious the whole time I wrote. I make connections, and it's easier to see a pattern there. Then, I cut, add, edit.

It's difficult not to edit as I go, but I think I'd miss out on a lot of depth if I didn't let myself put all my ideas out at once. It may take a while later, but if you think about it, editing up front could be a waste of time, too, if you end up having to cut that stuff then rewrite new scenes.

Wow. Sorry to be so long-winded. :) This is what works for me, but I totally understand the temptation to edit as you go and make it perfect. Best of luck to you!