Thursday, February 21, 2013

Revising As You Write


Problem:  Having difficulty finding a topic for an article for your blog.
Solution:  Keep your finger on the pulse of the Internet. It will seldom fail you.

Case-in-point, advice spread thick on how you should never, ever re-read what you've written while you're working on your writing project. Leave all revisions until you finish your first draft.

I strongly disagree. But was willing to refrain from commenting. That was until I encountered this advice blazing through out the Internet like a wild fire. Then I just had to cry out in protest.

I choose to protest not simply because I disagree but also because I don't believe anyone has the right to dictate how someone else should work. 

There are a few rules we--as writers--must follow (grammar, spelling, etc.). But how you work should be left up to you. What works for you--works for you.

Advocates of "no revisions until the end of the first draft"  insist that if you break this commandment you won't get anything written--of course.

Yet, me--the breaker of said rule--has completed three book-length manuscripts since 2011 (plus short stories and articles). 

Do I read the entire manuscript at the beginning of each writing session?

No. 

Here's my strategy...
At the end of each writing session, I highlight the unsatisfactory passage in red.
At the beginning of each writing session, I re-read the chapter containing the unsatisfactory passage. This is where I start working.

Advantage of this strategy...
It ensures consistency of story and voice.
It gives me an easy in to start working on the story.
It saves time. Yes, that's right, it saves time.
And...
And...

So, do I maintain that you should make revisions as you write?

Nope.

Try it. If it works for you, do it. If not. Don't.

6 comments:

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - I'm with you. After a day of writing I put the work away. The next time (be it the next morning, or next week), BEFORE I start writing, I reread — OUT LOUD — the previous work and make any changes and/or corrections right then and there. Like you, it's a great segue into the next section.

Leanne Dyck said...

Reading my work out loud really helps me as well Laurie.
What ever works works. : )

Solas said...

Hi Leanne,

I was so happy to read this post. I am writing my first novel and have found, as I catch a stride, that what I have been doing is exactly what you just said...except for the red ink part...I like that! And I do call my mother at the end of the writing session to read it out loud. It's not what she says, but the act of hearing it, that puts me in the head of the reader a bit more. Sometimes I go back and fix something and sometimes I leave it for the next session. Thanks for this great post!
Shea

Darlene Foster said...

I so agree. Not everything works for everybody. I also re read what I wrote the session before, tidy it up and continue. It saves time editing a lot later, although I still do that too. What ever works!

Leanne Dyck said...

Hi Darlene,
I think your comment hit the nail on the head--what ever works. That's the piece I wanted to stress.
When I was embarking on my first book-length manuscript I listened as an author described how she worked. Oh,no, I thought. I don't work like that I must be doing something wrong. I went home and immediately tried to change the way I worked. It didn't work. I couldn't work like that. Oh, no, I thought. I'm not a writer. I explained what was happening to her.
She validated how I work and told me, "If it works for you, it works."
I'm eternally (not too strong a word here) appreciative for her help.

Leanne Dyck said...

Hi Solas,
Your first novel, that's so exciting. Wishing you the best of luck with it. Reading it to someone is an excellent idea. I do that periodically with my writing group. And I also like how you stressed that it's not what she said. I find that if I read my work too early I'm too easily influenced by others.