I think what I appreciated most about Trent Lee Stewart’s visit to UCA last week was his humility and the way this humility underscored that there is no one way to be a writer, that it’s about finding out what process works for you.
This was most evident when he talked about drafting. He says he labors over his first drafts so that when they’re finished, they’re more or less finished, requiring just a little tweaking. He doesn’t enjoy subsequent revision because of the amount of time he puts into those first drafts (given the time element, I wouldn’t then call them first drafts but that’s another story). But then he went on to add that he knows lots of writers for whom revision is the whole point and writing the draft is agony.
That would be me. Sure, there are times when the “flow” is going pretty well in the drafting process, but most of the time, first drafts really are the hardest parts for me. I just can’t WAIT to get to the point of revising, tinkering, tinkering, tinkering. This makes novel writing, which I’m in the midst of, hard because the first draft seems to go on forever and I’m just dying to get to the revision. The fun, “phew, the basic creation is done,” part when I can fuss over words and sentences and, in the relaxation of revising, get all sorts of new ideas to enrich the writing along the way. Your basic carrot at the end of the stick.
I’ve tried the “revising as you go along” thing but it just doesn’t work for me. When I do that, I end up obsessing so much that I revise the same three pages for weeks and totally lose track of the story itself. Definitely a no-no when you’re working on a novel. Gotta keep the big picture in view.
So, at this point in your writing life, what kind of reviser of you?