This month I'm participating in the A to Z Blogger's Challenge, found here. Every day of April (except for Sundays), we are posting a blog with the theme of A to Z.
"More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina."
2. Writing the First Draft
2. I can type pretty fast, and NaNoWriMo helps me to put a first draft on the pages in about a month, month and a half. I spend from 1-3 hours a day on those days pounding out the first draft words.
Allow me to rephrase: at least 66% of my time is spent in the editing phase. Perhaps this goes back to my perfectionism (see post here), and my desire to get every sentence perfect before sharing it with someone. That can be crippling.
So it leaves me with a dilemma of when to stop. I could spend a lifetime editing and re-editing a novel (and, who knows?, maybe I will). But where's that moment in time when you stop doing good for the novel and start doing harm instead? I wish there were a timer on each of my novels. They would be just like those little plastic pop-up timers on the turkeys you cook every Thanksgiving. When the novel is prime and juicy, ready for consumption, the little red sphere pokes out and says, "Bing! I'm done. Send me on to a publisher, I'm not getting any better than this!"
A first draft is crap. It's inedible swill, it's raw turkey. Maybe half-baked. And consuming it will give you food poisoning. Beginning writers must remember this. It's something that has taken me many years to learn. Looking back at my first novels, ones that I chose not to edit much, I know a first draft is not ready for a reader's eyes.
So the NaNo haters have a point: don't write a first draft and expect it to be awesome. Unless you're willing to do the work editing, you aren't going to make it as a writer. "Everyone has a novel in them," is an oft-quoted bit of encouragement for the wannabe writer. Yes, everyone may have a novel in them, but not everyone has the perseverance to make that novel the best they can make it.