Don’t get it right, get it written!

person holding blue ballpoint pen writing in notebook

Yes of course, you have to find a way of writing that’s comfortable to you. Some people write the equivalent of a novel twice over before they fire up the word processor and type the immortal ‘Chapter One’. Others dive in with a rough idea in their mind – or even just an opening – and try to see where they can go from there.

But I want to address a way of working that, while working really well for some, can often hold others back.

Do you revise as you go? Are you also the sort of writer who feels that they have to combat “writer’s block” a lot? If so, maybe this will help you:

Simply put, I think that for many people, if they take the time to tweak as they go, it’ll slow them down. That’s a hell of a lot of tedious work done during the most creative period, and it’s so boring that it might put you off firing up the laptop and getting on with the good stuff later.

You see, whether you tweak-as-you-go or not, you’ll have to edit and refine later on anyway. This is why I think it’s way better to get it written and save the editorial stuff all for later. Finish it, then take a few days off. Weeks or months even, then come back fresh and look at that stuff then. There will be a ton of things to fix and change, but hey, you’ve already written the novel at that point, so it’s not as daunting.

And really, that’s the psychological point at work here. Once you have a (very rough) first draft written, then the monkey is off your back. The book is written. It’s far from perfect, but it’s actually written. And from that moment, you can edit in a way that’s relaxed and without pressure. You’ve basically already written the thing: that’s a huge psychological breakthrough. No worries about “oh, well, I’m editing this but but I’ve still got 70% of the whole thing to write”. It makes a huge difference.

That is, it makes a huge difference to me. As always when it comes to the written word, your mileage may vary!

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