Rewrite vs Edit vs Check-up

I’m still tinkering away on this damned-by-the-gods thing. I’m also still writing the next part of the same god-forsaken work-in-process.

What I don’t do: rewrite. Not yet. But there’s this urge to do just that.

The story has moved in directions I didn’t foresee. Yes, I planed some and plotted some other–but things still go as they may. Later on, I realized themes and scenes that escalate more. That drive harder. That hit deeper. Stakes are higher now than they were when I finished the first part.

The problem is: In order to make this all make sense in le part deux, some scene in part one need to be changed around. Consistency. Continuity. So, should I go back and edit those things right-the-fuck-now? 

My former self would say, yes. Damn it yes. Fix it now so it’s good to go for later. So it all makes sense on Draft-Zero.

Truth is, I start rewriting parts of established work, and lose my sense to continue the not-yet established WiP. I always to that. The pitfall. The procrastination. I won’t finish what I’ve started, because I can’t get away from the beginning. I just hover around. Finding it hard to even get started on that rewrite. Much harder to go back to the current scenes and continue on, because I know the beginning doesn’t line up with the new stuff as it should. Frustration. Bubbling. Foam and all. And I give up. Usually, though, not this time.

I learned a thing or two.

Instead I make notes where I need to change shit later on. Simple, short, easy to read notes. I don’t touch a single word of the first draft of part one. In the case of the current WiP, I printed out the entire first draft (draft-zero) of part 1. Three-hole-punched that fucker and put in a binder. It stands a proud 111 pages tall as manuscript. Then the red pen came out. Whenever I was not by the computer, when I was eating or waiting or watching TV (streaming, I don’t have cable), I would read the MS and pen out shit. More commas and stuff. Red ink looks nice on white paper. Mark down those scenes that don’t work anymore based on newly added scenes later on. Make a note in the margin. Few words to say what needs to change here later–way later.

So, all this said, here’s my general process for keeping the flow in three simple steps. It has helped me to stay focused and not end up in the death-sprial of re-re-re-writing an unfinished piece of work.

First–Write.

Write it down. Scene after scene. Until the daily word count is reached. For me that’s 2000 words. During workdays (10 hours of labour), this might drop. But I’m making an effort to get up there and try to balance it on my (three) days off with slightly higher counts. Meaning: average should balance to 2000 within a 7-day span. At this point: No edits. No checks. And for crying-out-loud, no rewrites.

Second–Check-up.

When I’m done with the writing part, the words spewed onto the page, I will go over the work. Not right away. Have some lunch. Coffee. Masturbate. Watch Star Wars (the new stuff. It’s about clearing one’s mind). After I meditate (that’s what I call any of the aforementioned stuff), I’ll look at the words I’ve written. Not the stuff before. Not the notes for what comes after. The current count of blah blah blah. I shift commas. Add dots. Cross tees. Dot ayes. You know it. It’s a spellcheck. Superficial. But important. Fix the plaster, not the structure. It’s not a new coat of paint. It’s mudding over holes and rough patches.

Third–Edit.

Now shit gets interesting. Commas in place. Dots are dotted were dotting was needed. Mud is dry. Now I look for words I don’t like. Phrases that don’t make sense. Sentences that are too long. Too short. Dialogs that suck. In short: Content. Not in the overall theme of the work, but in the spirit of that scene. Does my first sentences line up with the last? Did I miss balls I threw up in the air here, that should have come down already? Is this too much? Too little? And-so-on. This is not a rewrite. It’s also not a simple check-up. It’s an in-betweener. It makes sure the integrity of the scene works. Sanding down the dried mud, smoothing out the rough edge. Adding a screw.

* * *

These are my personal three steps on a day-to-day writing process. The rewrite is to be left alone. Yes, if I write a new scene and become aware that I need to fix a scene from way-before to make this new drama make sense, I will go back to that old scene and make a note. Highlight. Add a comment. Most word-processors will let you do these things.

I do not, in any way, attempt to rewrite the old scene right now. It would just distract me from pushing forward. It might also create more problems down the line–and now I’m stuck fixing the rattling pipe in the wall by tearing out the wall all-together. Not a good idea at this point.

Sum-up

My writing day put-simple looks like this (on a day off. Milage varies on workdays):

1. Write. (3-4h)
1.5. Nap.
2. Check. (1-2h)
2.5. Nap.
3. Edit/Fix. (1-3h)
Go to bed.

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