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Why You Should Edit Halfway Through Your First Draft

I don’t know why writers like to sit on a shitty draft.

Seriously!

They’re all like, oh just get it over with. It’s okay, your first draft isn’t supposed to be good. Don’t get hung up on it. Worry about it when you write that final word. We’re revisers, not writers. Blah, blah, bla–

WHAT!

YOU PEOPLE ARE INSANE!

I tried it.

I did, guys.

I put up a real good fight with my first draft.

But I got to the halfway mark and JUST COULDN’T. The material was SO BAD. I didn’t want to get to the end of my novel and feel like, well, let the games begin.

The game already began on page one, and I want to feel triumphant on that last day like, AYO, YA BITCH DID IT AGAIN. Not, AYO, let’s go back through and delete everything because I forgot all the rules of writing and have too much telling, cliche dialogue, too many crutch words, adverbs, too many front doors changing colors and characters so miserably stuck in the second dimension because I forgot how to convey emotion.

NOOOOOOOO.

I had a much easier time writing the first draft of my first novel when I went back through and edited everything, because it pushed me forward.

The wordcount does not fuel me, the quality of my writing does.

Yes, your work is cut out for you at pretty much every stage of writing your novel, but you don’t want to feel intimidated by the process when you finish your book. You want to feel like, okay, now’s the easy part, because you already went through and saved yourself some time by making your first half somewhat decent.

There’s something so pleasurable about having a rough day of writing, so rough you forget why you write at all, and being able to go to the first page of your MS and read it with absolute clarity because you already did the dirty work–you already went through and rewrote everything. It reminds you why it is you do what you do. Why it is you write what you write. Why it is you are who you are. It gives you a sense of identity in those moments immediately after you’ve scrawled a particularly shitty sentence and wondered, who the fuck am and what the fuck am I doing? I’m gonna make a career out of this? Nah, I’m more likely to get killed in an act of terrorism (1 in 20 million) than make it as a novelist.

EDIT HALFWAY THROUGH. It puts you so deeply in the story. And when you get to the end of editing your first half, you look on, with great determination, at the rest of your journey knowing that you understand your characters and their goals more clearly than you ever thought possible.

 

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