Here is a quick overview of my manuscript preparation plan:
Step 1: Writing only
Step 2: Editing
And never the twain shall meet. (First, writing only. Then, editing.)
Here’s a handy chart for the visual learners:
|When preparing a manuscript, editing takes more of my time and effort than writing.|
You’ll notice that most of my time was spent in the editing phase, and the writing phase is hardly more than a blip on the chart. This is exactly the opposite of how most people view the art of writing. I used to envision a solitary person in a small, book-filled room gazing out the window as they arduously penned their great American novel. Outside, the seasons would change, but the writer still labored. Then they would take their completed novel straight to the publisher, and immediately, it would garner acclaim from the literary world.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have years to devote to sitting at a desk. And more importantly, the goal of the first draft should not be perfection. As Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” (I would put that quotation on my wall if I could.) If Hemingway felt that way, then why in the world was I striving for absolute perfection? It made no sense.
By trade, I am an editor. I take existing text and make it better. Well, that’s the theory anyway. But when it came to writing, I couldn’t squelch my editorial side; my perfectionism was in the way. I was afraid of failing at my dream of writing a novel. I was totally stuck. So I adopted and modified a writing plan that I originally read here.
I agreed with the high-velocity plan because it eliminated my fear of doing it wrong. Under this plan, I was completely free to write it wrong, to screw it up, and to generally make a mess of things. Getting it done was the main goal. Making it good would come later.
But what I didn’t realize was that the high-velocity writing plan would get me out of my own way. As Ray Bradbury said, “Your intuition knows what it wants to write, so get out of the way.” Sitting down and letting myself write whatever came out resulted in a surprisingly good first draft. Why? Because I let my intuition guide me, and then, I let my inner perfectionist edit the beast into submission.
What’s even more exciting is that the more you write, the easier it becomes. The fear of doing it wrong fades as you free yourself to write what is already in your heart.
Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my Writing Fear Free tips and techniques, and I hope they will help you finish your first novel.