Wednesday, March 7, 2012

But What I Wrote Yesterday Was Better!

One of the hard parts about writing for me is starting again without comparing what I'm doing today to what I wrote yesterday.

The part I've already written always sounds pretty good (at least, before editing) and the part I'm trying to work on doesn't seem like it's even worth writing down. Maybe this is self-doubt creeping in, or some kind of writing perfectionism. Do you have this problem? Some ways to deal with it:

1. Don't go back and read over too much of what's already there. It's too intimidating. I just go back a paragraph or so.

2. Leave a quick note at the end of each day's work about where the story is going so I don't have to read the "better" part of the book over again.

3. Begin writing in a fresh document and copy it into the rest of the novel later (if it's good enough).

I know some writers don't write sequentially, so maybe that helps.

When I start a writing session, I always think my writing should flow seamlessly on to the next section. What I forget is all the re-writing I did of each previous section while I was writing it.



19 comments:

  1. This sounds like me. I tend to just read the scene I was working on (if I had to stop in the middle of it), but I don't edit it. If I did, I would never finish the first draft, and it still wouldn't mean my wip was worthy enough yet to be seen by anyone beyond me.

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    1. Stina, I find it very hard not to edit what I've done. It would be so much faster if I could stop.

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  2. Sometimes I have the opposite problem. I read the first few chapters and think, "Really? This doesn't describe my character at all! Why did I put the bedroom there? She definitely wouldn't wear pink. I have to rewrite the whole beginning again!"

    But yes, it helps not to read the old stuff until the entire first draft is done in either case.

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    1. Interesting. I always think that in the first draft I'm learning about the character, and I know them much better by the end so I can go back and develop them further.

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  3. I think those are great ideas. And they work. I used them when writing my nano WIP and it kept me going forward. Fixing it once it's done, though, is another story :)

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    1. I imagine it would be almost impossible to do any looking back during Nano. Maybe that's why I've never been brave enough to try it!

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  4. Good advice! When I stop and go back and read my writing I'm usually disappointed. It slows me down and makes me doubt if I'm going in the right direction. Sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not. Either way, keep plugging ahead!

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    1. Any tricks we have to dispel doubts, the better!

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  5. Ha, ha. I totally understand this one. I've learned so much what NOT to do with this particular novel project.

    I think next time, I'm not reading anything until I finish a first draft.

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  6. I do #2 sometimes, usually because I don't outline. I don't mind giving my internal editor her fix and letting her read 10 pages or so.

    Of course, I've also been known to stop writing mid-sentence, so I can pick up with SOMETHING the next day. So there's that too.

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    1. I've never tried that stop in the middle of a sentence trick. Maybe I should!

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  7. I just seem to constantly find what I've written isn't good enough, and I've spent the last 3 years labouring over the same manuscript to make it better until it's good enough... still working on it! But I like the no going back idea. Going back is something you do at the end. Write first, edit later.

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    1. For me the "not good enough" is always the part I'm working on. Until I'm finished the novel and then it applies to the whole thing.

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    2. I think it's best to finish the novel so that the whole thing isn't good enough and you haven't got parts that have been edited to perfection vs parts you only just wrote. I read a good blog entry recently (I can't remember where, Writer Unboxed blog?) about the importance of getting everything onto the page before you start looking back with a critical eye.

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  8. I never read what I wrote yesterday, apart from the last few sentences. It makes my first draft easy to write, but causes some headaches at editing time :-)

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    1. I guess we all get headaches at different parts of the process!

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  9. I always reread what I wrote yesterday and make changes to it as a way of launching myself into today's session.

    I also am greatly helped by making notes about where the story is going next.

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    1. I'm finding lately that the notes help me a lot. Sometimes, I even start by making notes and that helps me get back into writing.

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