When to Revise Your Writing?
There are lots of editing methods, some people like to edit as they go, writing a chapter and then revising. Some people like to “word vomit” and then go back and edit from the beginning. Today we’re going to talk about the “word vomit” and how, for some people, it makes the act of writing a little bit easier.
I consider myself an organized person. I enjoy keeping things neat and tidy and having lists and schedules and all that good stuff. My organized personality spills into my writing habits, and, for a long time, the idea of “word vomiting” and not editing as I went seemed strange, silly and way too scary. How was I supposed to ignore my mistakes and keep going when I had the opportunity to fix them now? The idea seemed ludicrous. Yet, as I continued to write and go back to fix grammar, plot holes, etc, I found that I wasn’t getting any real writing accomplished. Yes, I had a nice polished first chapter, in fact I had several different versions of a nice first chapter (that I’m still not satisfied with to this day), but a story is certainly more than the first chapter, and I wasn’t accomplishing anything. All I was doing was frustrating myself and going in circles. For every step forward I moved two steps back. That’s when I started reading some of Veronica Roth’s (author of Divergent) blog posts.
Multiple times she explained the concept of “word vomiting” and it began to make sense in my mind. I began to see writing in a different light, one less contained by the struggle for perfection and one focused more on the end goal of having a book. A full and finished book. That is something I’ve always wanted, something I’ve only accomplished once in my life, and once my focus shifted to that end result, my writing habits took I totally different turn.
Now, I don’t edit at all. Or at least the bare minimum. I keep pressing forward, leaving chaos and destruction in my path perhaps, twisted plotlines, gaping plot holes and the grammatical skills of an elementary student, but I am moving forward, I am currently as I write this, on Chapter 27 of my manuscript. That is a far cry from the Chapter 1 I had been stuck on for months last winter. Now that I have made some actual progress writing has become much more of a joy and less a struggle. The pressure to perform has been lifted and is instead replaced with this fast-paced adrenaline rush as I pound towards the finish line. I know that there will be tons of time in the future for me to go back and fix things, and I’m looking forward to returning to that too. But before I can have a fixed manuscript, I need to have a completed one. And I’m much closer to that goal than I ever was before.
That’s my take on the “word vomit” vs. editing as you go. What do you guys think? What works for you and what doesn’t?