Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Exiting the First Draft Haze

What follows in my attempt at a light-hearted, not wallowing in self pity post.

I completed a MS a few weeks ago. It rode me hard, wouldn’t let me alone, and pestered me until I finished. It took me around thirty days to write the 65,000 words. Below is a list of things I stopped doing while navigating the brain haze of a new manuscript.

1 – Wearing shoes besides Chuck Taylor’s. (See photo evidence of adorable heels I wore on Wednesday.)

2 – Blow drying my hair. (What? I’m not the only one who puts their hair in a ponytail after a shower and calls it good for two days, right? RIGHT?!?)

3 – Fixing my hair. (See above.)

4 – Talking to my mother. (Who sent me an angry text message containing the word ‘pissed.’ Rough stuff from Mom.)

5 – Going to church. (I went last week and people hugged me profusely like they thought I came back from the dead.)

6 – Taking even my usual fleeting interest in my dayjob. (Which means I am so far behind on my meager monthly offering. I barely made it in January.)

7 – Shaving my legs. (That might be TMI. At least I shaved my armpits.)

8 – Cooking. (Or eating anything remotely healthy.)

9 – Sleeping more than 5 hours a night.

10 – Walking my dogs. (Or playing with my dogs. Or doing more than occasionally rubbing their belly’s while working out a plot point.)

11 - Watching the 20+ hours of TV now waiting on my DVR. (I am not kidding. The only thing I’ve been watching is American Idol, and just because getting behind isn’t an option.)

That said, now I am on to revisions. I usually like to take at least a month before I begin, let the MS sit and marinate, then return to work on edits. This story will not let me do that. The intense pressure has lifted, but instead of disappearing it gave way to a constant throb. It’s not gone. I am about halfway through a rewrite of some plot/character issues. I’ll try and take another 2 weeks off after this one before I start another, more nitpicky revision.

I, like all authors, do several revisions before I put down a story. Notice I didn’t say finish a story, because they aren’t ever really finished. The first pass goes fast, depending on how many holes need to be plugged after the first draft. The second one focuses more on grammar, word choice, and sentence structure. Also, getting rid of those pesky words like ‘that, seem(s)(ed), and anything ending in –ly. Passive voice. Dialogue that doesn’t work. The third (hopefully) cleans up what the first two miss.

What are your editing processes like, writer friends? Longer than mine? Shorter? Just different? What do you forgot to do when you are deep in a first draft?

PS. For more great thoughts on editing/revising, check out Elisabeth Black’s similar post.


  1. ROFL! I love your list - totally hilarious!! :-)

  2. Hey I put my hair in a ponytail for two days-- >.>

  3. I'm with you on stories and their inability to leave us writers alone. I'm working on major rewrites for my MS now, and decided to focus on ten chapters at a time so as to save what's left of my sanity.

    That said, my editing process is more or less the same as yours.

  4. Blow dry my hair? Am I supposed to do that? And EVERYONE knows you don't shave your legs in the winter. Duh. My children have lived on a diet of chicken nuggets, pizza and cereal since November. I hear you.

    Hang in there with those revisions. Your story is awesome and worth all the hard work.

  5. Welcome back from the haze! I know just what you mean. I whip out a pretty quick first draft, but I'm completely single-minded in the process.

  6. I have a terrible time getting the dishes done when I am IN PROCESS.

    Good luck with revisions! And taking the time off from them!

  7. Your attempt at a light-hearted, not wallowing in self pity post was a rousing success!! Loved it!!

  8. Oh hi! Thanks for linking to me. I guess I don't get to answer the question, then. :)

    I like your new blog look.

  9. Funny list. The only thing different about my editing process is having to defend plot points and character actions to my wife. She always makes me think things in new ways, which often leads to gaping mistakes that must be considered. :)

  10. This was great! I don't give up much when I'm busy with writing; I just scream at everyone who bothers me. For the record, it's okay to skip leg shaving if you're keeping your underarms up (at least that's what I tell myself).