I’ve never written a novel before. I’ve written a lot of essays and articles, and I’ve done my fair share of short stories and interactive writing/round-robin sorts of things, but a novel is a new project for me. So, like everything else that I tackle, I want to do it well and put in the best effort I can. So, I spend time reading and studying about how to write a novel. I browse blogs and other websites with advice for new writers, I listen to podcasts by published authors and watch videos on YouTube.
Lots of the same stuff gets repeated and what seems to make the most sense or what seems to be the most commonly-touted suggestions become things I try to integrate.
Except when trying to do that is more of a problem than it’s worth.
My current issue is thus: I have heard, read, seen, and tried writing without editing. I’ve considered that to be my biggest hold-up in getting things finished. Everywhere I’ve looked, the standard suggestion seems to be “Just write, just keep writing, and don’t edit until you’ve finished your first draft.”
My favorite authors have made this suggestion, and I figure, “Well, if it works for them… I should try it.”
And so I did.
And it doesn’t work for me. I’m an edit-as-I-go person and I’ve decided now that I’m going to just own that and make that work for me. It might mean my project goes more slowly than I had hoped, but when I consider everything else that I do, I realize that this is just how I work.
When I am trying to learn something, I take it apart in pieces and work on it, bit by bit, until I have the whole thing mastered and completed. By trying to invent an entirely new dynamic for my writing, I’ve been aggravating myself and feeling stuck and frustrated when I shouldn’t be.
So what if it’s not the way that so-and-so suggests and it’s not how such-and-such author would recommend getting a book done? It’s how I work, and it’s going to have to be how I work because I’d rather get the book done slowly than not at all, and without hating myself for falling short of an ideal that just isn’t me.
I still plan to do editing after my first draft is completed, and I know there will be future edits that will have to happen after showing my work to friends and readers before I prepare to send it to an agent. But, maybe if I am doing chunks of editing as I go, I won’t have as much to do in the editing/rewriting phase of things. We’ll just have to see.
I’m editing as I go, moving things around, making changes. At the end of my work day, if I only have five hundred new words added, or two pages, or a chapter to boast my completion, so be it. At least it will be five hundred words I’m okay with…
…Until I’m not.
And then I’ll just keep going, without the additional stress of feeling like I’m failing because I’m not doing it the right way.
I am doing it the right way.
And that’s good enough.