How about that – doing nothing sometimes really works.

I began writing this post last week but never had time to make it past line one. I am certain that since then my thoughts have changed considerably, and I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to Laura Best, and Ev Bishop, two fantastic bloggers and writers (yes, I have been lucky enough to read both of their work) for honouring me with the Prolific Blogger Award. I will be passing it on to seven others shortly.

Ok, back to post…. It’s not that I’ve really been doing nothing. I have been very busy, just not in my usual busy kind of way. I have been editing the first draft of my second novel. A little while back I mentioned that when I began this process I spent an enormous amount of time re-writing the opening pages. Since then, I have not allowed myself any form of re-writing at all. I even use the strike through feature if I think something needs to be cut. What I have been doing is reading and taking footnotes and notes. To date, I have read through 174 pages of an odd 350 and have 420 footnotes. I keep waiting for the computer to tell me that I have reached a limit.

I am also writing my thoughts in a journal as I read. Doing these two things has been probably one of the most productive steps I have ever taken in my writing. Seems very simple doesn’t it? Yet, in my first novel I did not progress in this way. I made the changes as I went. This time, I find by not making any changes into the text I am able to focus on it so much better. I clearly see thoughts and dialogue that is out of character, scenes that make no sense, etc, etc. Plus, I have been able to see the larger picture and the little details that are absent from the first draft that would make it so much stronger. I am actually exited when I know I have an editing session coming up! I never would have thought. I have never had an averssion to editing, yet it was not my favorite. Writing was. At the moment though I am connecting with my characters even more than when I was writing the draft.

In the meantime I have been reading A Writer’s Guide to Fiction: A concise and practical guide for novelists and short-story writers, by Elizabeth Lyon. I wanted to quote from the text as I have been finding her a great inspiration.

“Most stories have two levels: the external plot and the internal character need. Both levels culminate in the character – and reader – learning something fundamental about self and life. …. By my story, by my plot, you might be transformed.”

This is my deepest desire in my writing. That my story is so real as to be an experience. I know that this is the case for me as the writer, entering a world, and now refining it, and in some instances redefining it.


16 thoughts on “How about that – doing nothing sometimes really works.

  1. I think that sounds like a good approach to editing. It would give you more time to consider if you really want to make that change. If you make changes too hastily, you may change something you want to take back later. Like you illustrated in your previous post, it is easy to miss things in your writing, even good things that are buried in there, when it’s fresh on your mind.

    I may try your approach when I get to the editing stage, and even now when I’m tempted to go back & change things as I go along. I’ve noticed that my word processor has a feature for adding comments. I’ve been curious about it, but I’ve never used it. Now, if only I can get back to writing. It seems that I can only fit in one hobby at a time, and in the past few months, that has not been writing.

    Have fun with your editing. I’m sure it’ll all turn out great.

    1. Hi Jana, nice to see you. It certainly does not allow for hasty changes, and I find it gives a lot of time for contemplation and recognition.
      Hope you’ve been enjoying the “other”. lol

  2. Jennifer, I’m glad to hear you’ve found a system that’s working for you. I’m keeping a list of way others edit, so I can try them on my next novel. Some are sooooo organized, which is not like me. I have much to learn.

  3. Oh, I did that as well! It’s amazing how that small detail of NOT making changes when reading through can change the way you feel about the process so dramatically. Good to hear that things are ticking along nicely for you!

    1. Ah..discipline. I think it is something I will never really have enough of, Tricia.
      Yet, I have been polishing my opening pages at the same time (for a group sub) and I think this keep me prose happy. I give myself 20-30 minutes at a time per day as a break.

  4. Jennifer, it sounds like you’ve found a process that’s working for you. I might have to try this next time through. The way I usually get around the constant rewriting is to print out a draft and make myself go to the library where I have no computer until I read straight through making notes on the pages themselves as well as separate lists of issues to deal with. Good luck with the rest of your pages.

  5. I also recently experienced that change in my feelings about editing, excited about the re-writing and tuning process.

    What a great expression of your desire for your writing: so real as to be an experience. !!

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