Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rechelle's Diary: 2/22/11 - The Best Writing Advice Ever Given

There are approximately eight to ten incomplete manuscripts stored in a folder on my computer under the heading of "My Manuscripts". Some consist of only a few pages while others have several chapters completed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to choose one of these incomplete manuscripts to complete as my first novel rather than begin with a new idea from scratch.

While I was in the process of trying to choose the perfect manuscript, I began questioning the reasons why I had so many unfinished stories waiting to be completed. I remembered having all these wonderful ideas and stories floating around in my head when I began each manuscript, yet each time I had waned as each story progressed. Despite the incompleteness of my previous attempts, I knew that becoming an author was the right path for me so I began looking for answers and direction on how to keep myself in writing mode and how to stay motivated enough to actually complete my manuscripts.  

A few days later, I stumbled on this post by Clay Rivers and had a true aha moment when I read the following:
"The goal isn't to write it perfectly the first time. The goal is to get it committed to paper, be it real or virtual. Don't edit yourself on your first draft. There will be plenty of time to go back and edit your manuscript."
Although River's post is actually addressing the topic of writing a memoir, this is universal advice and it described my situation perfectly. I had been hindering my own progress by being too much of a perfectionist!

In the past, I would stop dead in my tracks, smack in the middle of an idea stream, to edit what I'd just written. Additionally, each time I would sit down to write, first I would read the previous pages I had written. Then, while reviewing them, I would notice a misspelling or inconsistency and immediately, the anal retentive side of me would kick into edit mode and rather than writing additional pages and getting my ideas onto paper, I would get stuck editing. The worst part of it is that until I read River's post, I really hadn't been cognizant of it.

From this moment on, I will not be going back and reading previous pages, nor will I begin editing until I have completed the entire rough draft. I really believe that this will benefit me greatly and that my manuscripts will no longer be "casualties of my perfection".


  1. Hi Rechelle. Yours is the 2nd blog I've read this week where the writer has declared that she'll finish the complete 1st draft before doing any editing. It's gotten me to think about whether it would work for me or if my story will end up going in some "wrong" direction. I read the previous day's work each day to keep me on target. I'm not sure I can give that up! Good luck with your new process. I look forward to hearing about it. Jordan

  2. @ Jordan
    I think I'd be okay if I could just stop reading and not start editing, but it's hopeless!! LOL!!