Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How People Write

Over the weekend I determined that I don't write like other people. This discovery threw me for a loop actually because I was very afraid that I might have wasted the last ten years of my life on a novel that won't get published because I chose to write differently than the established norm.

Yes, I know what you are thinking... Does it really matter?

Well, after a little research (i.e. a poll posted at my local writing hole), I have decided that I am not doomed to failure (whew!)

The crux of the matter was that I do not do multiple drafts of my novels. I write several chapters and then go back to revise until I feel like I have achieved the effect that I wanted. Apparently, many writers write a full draft, and then go through and revise multiple times, each time resulting in a new draft. That concept makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.

One writer pointed out that some people try to write a near perfect first draft while others like to write a "garbage" first draft just so they can get everything out of their heads. I belong to the former category (while my husband belongs to the latter, interestingly enough). And now that I think about it, I HATED writing multiple drafts in high school and college. I found the exercise pointless since I had poured myself into getting it right the first time. Ah, the pitfalls of striving for perfection!

In the end, I did find two other writers who operate in the same manner that I do. I was quite excited to find out that I'm not an anomaly. Of course, I stressed so much about being different that I totally blew a good weekend to get some major writing done.

I think I need to work on that.


  1. I used to write that way, but I suffer from minor OCD. If I don't move on to the next part of the story and ignore the imperfections, I'll never get past chapter one.

    I don't personally think it matters HOW you write, as long as WHAT you write turns out to be the best product you can create :)

  2. I think everyone writes a little differently--I tend to build, slowly. In pieces.

    And then polish and buff the whole thing :) At least, I hope I it's polished!

  3. Hi Caroline! I'm here through a referral from Giles. :)

    I am of the drafting kind, but I think I've improved my process over time. My first novel went through 3 major revisions, and that's not including the first set on the first half when I thought it was a standalone work... long story (literally). My second novel probably could use a second round, and my third novel only needed a single tune-up before I felt it was ready to submit (...still waiting to see if my publisher/editor agree on THAT point).

    I think as Rowenna said it's a matter of finding your own course through it. If editing-as-you-go works for you, great. I know how terrorizing it can be to look at a 150k word project and wonder how you're going to edit it all at once, but I just keep the mantra of "How do you eat an elephant?" (One bite at a time)

    Also, I'm not 100% sure there is an "established norm" either with writing or getting published.

  4. Hi Caroline! I've actually tried both ways. On my current WIP, I am writing a few chapters, editing and then moving on. My first novel, I wrote all the way through without editing and now I don't want to go back and edit it. Of course, first novels are often a trial and I may never even try to publish it.

    Welcome to blogging. Stop by my blog and feel free to visit some of the fellow authors that follow. http://www.yourjen.blogspot.com/