Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Writing first draft versus editing

I'm doing an academic creative writing course at the moment. It's interesting to be writing genre fiction when most of the materials have a literary slant, but my tutor is fine about fantasy and the marks I've been getting have boosted my confidence a lot.

As we're nearly at the end, we're looking at the revision/editing process. In the course book it says:

Fay Weldon says that "there have to be two personalities in every writer": A, who produces the first drafts, has to be "creative, impetuous, wilful, emotional, sloppy"; B, who works on them, has to be 'argumentative, self-righteous, cautious, rational, effective.

It's just as well that I firmly believe in the "Nine and sixty ways" mantra because I don't write like that. The course book had previously asked us to think of adjectives to describe our first draft writing self and I came up with:

hesitant, verbose, groping, tentative.

For my editing self I decided on:

judging, evaluating, decisive, balanced.

And now I know why freewriting doesn't work for me as a technique. It's why NaNoWriMo wouldn't work either.

I don't compose my first drafts in a sloppy white-heat of creativity. (To mix metaphors wildly!) My first drafts feel like tentative pencil sketches and the editing is like firming everything up, discarding what doesn't work and improving the bits that do work. But my method does work for fiction and I've managed to extend it to poetry as well.

It feels horrible struggling with a new story, but I just need to remember that the first draft always feels horrible, but I can make it right in the revision.

But I wondered if anyone else would like to think of words to describe how they feel while writing first draft and how they feel like writing/revising?

(Also posted to 9and60ways. Please comment over there if you feel moved to.)
Tags: writing, writing_reflection

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