Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Switching Gears

If you've been reading my weekly progress reports, you know I've been trying to finish the rough draft of my YA mystery, the Cottage, by the end of November. Usually I like to get started on a rough draft and just plow through till it's finished, but over the weekend I decided to switch gears. I'm going to apply for a local writers retreat, and I'd like to use The Cottage for the retreat. So I'm now working on editing the first twenty pages before I've finished the rough draft. This is the first time I've ever edited a draft that wasn't finished.

Of all the stages of writing a novel - outlining, writing the rough draft, editing, querying - editing is my favorite. I love writing the rough draft, too, but I don't edit at all as I go, so when I'm done I'm left with a big, ugly mess. It's a necessary step in my process, but a little discouraging, too. I seriously start to wonder why I think I can write in the first place. Then I start editing, and slowly but surely everything falls into place (usually!)

So I guess I won't be finishing my rough draft in November, but hopefully I'll return to it with renewed enthusiasm and inspiration in December.

Do you edit as you go along, or keep the rough drafting and the editing completely separate? And have you ever attended a writers retreat?

36 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow!!! I think Melissa Cunningham just returned from a writer's retreat and her latest blog post was all about it - she loved it!! She was really envigorated and inspired! So I just know you'll enjoy it too - and am so thrilled that you are going!! Yay!!!

And it's freaky you love the editing side of the writing but hey!! why not! LOL! take care
x

Kittie Howard said...

I've never been to a writers' retreat and feel like I'm really missing something really great. Hope you have a wonderful time and learn lots of good stuff. I kinda, sorta edit as I go.

Joanne said...

I like the editing phase too. I'll edit a little as I go, here and there, but save the thorough for the finished ms. Good luck on the writer's retreat application!

DEZMOND said...

Suzie, you do know that there already are a few books out titled COTTAGE :)

Anne Gallagher said...

I edit as I go, then do a final sweep (like 6 final sweeps) when it's all done.

I would love to go to a writer's retreat. Someday.

Michelle Teacress said...

On my first novel, I edited as I went along. Then I went to a writers conference, and my eyes were opened to how much editing I actually needed to do. So I started over on another novel, and do not edit as I go. I enjoy 'stepping away' from it for a while, because when I come back for the re-read it's easier to see what needs to be done.

Have a great week!

Brian said...

I wish I had a first draft so I could answer that question!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I found I do better if I just plow through and edit later.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I edit and polish each chapter as I go along. I'm not satisfied unless I do. Now, it's not perfect after that, of course. In fact, I'll edit and polosh every chapter when I go back for revisions, too. But I am very recursive as I write.

Julie Dao said...

That's so cool, Susan - I would LOVE to go to a writers' retreat. I think that's a great idea to save your story for it. I always edit unfinished drafts (it's a REALLY bad habit and keeps me from plowing through) but I'm trying to restrain myself. I'd do it if I had a great reason like yours, though!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I edit as I go, but I also edit when I'm done. :-)

I would LOVE to go to a writer's retreat one day. Enjoy! :-)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I edit as I go and then when the whole story is done I start at the beginning re editing.

Have an awesome time at the retreat!!!

DL Hammons said...

I do some cursory editing as I go along, primarily because I really hate editing so I try to get as much out of the way as possible. :)

Lynda R Young said...

My first drafts are as rough as nails. They are terrible, but it keeps me writing. I also love the editing stage because I get to see magic happen...at last. (well, that's the hope anyway).

Emy Shin said...

A writers' retreat sounds really amazing! I hope you'll have a wonderful time.

I've been editing the first chapter, but I'm trying to get through the rest of the ms without editing as I go. :)

E.R. King said...

I prefer not to edit as I go along until I have the first draft complete. It's so hard not to, but finishing the drafting is important. One step at a time, right?

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I do small edits, or any edits that will keep me from moving on if I don't do them. But generally I work through that first draft as fast as I can and then edit in stages. Every book I've had has had usually 10-20 drafts. It's overwhelming when I'm on that...fifth draft. But hang in there! You will cross that finish line!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

I've always wanted to go to a writer's retreat! Maybe someday! I hope you have a wonderful time.

I'm exactly like Carol right above me. I do small edits, but I generally try to pound out that first draft quickly. I'm with you -- usually my first draft is a mess!

Talli Roland said...

I always power straight through to the end. I can't stop or I might never get back to it, because when I read it over, the self-doubt sets in.

Southpaw said...

I still go back and forth with my current WIP I'm trying just to write the draft.

Stephen Tremp said...

I've never attended a writers retreat but would like to. With family and everything its a bit much at the time. And I do catch myself editing. I just go with it and try to steer myself back to drafting and writing as I go along.

Kim said...

I am a terribly self-editor. I think, sometimes, I let perfect be the enemy of good enough, and get stuck on a sentence for way too long.
Have fun at the retreat! I've never been to one, but it sounds wonderful :)

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I blow through the first draft and then I revise. If I combine the two, I will never finish the project. I get too muddled. I use the first draft time to be sure I actually have the bones of a story. Having typed that, I understand what you're going through. I'm in the midst of revising the first two chapters of a manuscript for a retreat I am applying for, too. Good luck!

Susan R. Mills said...

I tend to edit as I go, which I've heard you aren't supposed to do. But I can't help myself. The problem is, I'm still left with a big, ugly mess in the end. And I still have to go back and do a bunch of editing.

Elizabeth said...

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Elizabeth

http://silversolara.blogspot.com

Velva said...

You will really enjoy the writers retreat. I have never been one too but, any retreat that focuses on your passion has to be a good idea.

Cheers.
Velva

Marcia said...

Oh, I definitely edit as I go. My first draft takes me forever, but it's really a 1st-8th draft rolled into one!

I've been to a "retreat" in that this is what our annual SCBWI conference is termed, but if you mean quiet-all-weekend-nothing-but-writing, I've not. I'd love to!

Theresa Milstein said...

My last manuscript, I edited as I went along. It was important because I took breaks in between writing sessions. It was the only way for me to recall details and recapture voice. But I found that my WIP was cleaner when I finished.

I hear you on feeling like I can't write when I look at a completed manuscript. We all go there!

Madeleine said...

Congrats on getting so far along. Good luck with the next stage in Decemeber.
I edit as I go along, which I probably shouldn't as I get to a certain stage and run out of steam.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm in between--sometimes I'll go back and edit, and sometimes I'll just blaze through the first draft and try to clean it all up later.

I've never been to a retreat. I hope you have fun! :)

Dawn Simon said...

I've done it both ways. For the most part nowadays, I push forward and just make notes to myself as I think of changes. That said, I turn in chapters to my crit group as I write. I keep all our notes and their edits until it's time to rewrite/revise.

Lucky you! A retreat is such a great opportunity! :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I haven't had the pleasure of going to a writing retreat. I'd love to go to one, though.

I try my best not to edit as I draft. I itch to do it, but it's a waste of time since so many things will change with revisions.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

I wish I could embrace editing like you do. It is my least favorite aspect of writing and yet, the one that I spend most of my time in. Maybe I just suck at writing.

Romance Reader said...

Congrats on getting so far along, I would love to attend a writer's retreat.

Nas Dean said...

I would love to go to a writer's retreat. I also edit along as I write, not that I do much writing nowadays!

cleemckenzie said...

There are days when I write without going back, and then there are others when I can't leave a scene alone until I get it the way I want it. I can't tell which way works better, but I know I love to sit back at the end of a session and read something that works!

Good luck with your mystery.