Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When is Editing Procrastination?

Recently I came back to a manuscript I had been working on after a couple months. I was about half done writing the story when I put it down and, due to the long absence, I decided to reread what I had done.

So far, so good. I was pretty happy with the quality of writing and the story was moving along the way I wanted. I knew I had a bit more plotting to do for the second half which I did.

The new plotting actually required the movement of some of the original writing.

So, I moved the writing that needed moving and continued to write. The thing was, I kept running into original words that didn't quite fit. So I cut what didn't work and wrote new. Then I checked my new word total and discovered I had LOST word count.

Not the end of the world, but I hadn't actually added much to the story in terms of new content. What I had managed to do was reverse my progress.

I continued in this way for a few days, discovering more often than not that I finished my writing day with fewer words than I started and the story hadn't moved forward.

Progress or procrastination? You be the judge.

This isn't a new thing for me either. My very first novel took me seven years to complete. That was largely because I kept going back and editing the work I had written before (chapter 1 actually went through 24 iterations before I finally said, "Enough!").

Apparently I need a lesson more than once...I was going to say to learn the right way to go but I'm not entirely convinced I won't make the same mistake again one day.

So, going forward on this particular work, I'm going to write the new stuff and leave the old alone knowing I will hit the occasional continuity problem when I go back. I will be using this strategy because when I do finally hit my editing pass, the book with already be complete. No more editing procrastination/negative progress for me.

Is it just me or does this happen to you too? Do you even realize it is happening? :)


Liz Fountain said...

We are marvelously creative when finding new ways to procrastinate! But losing word count isn't necessarily a lack of progress, if the writing is better as a result.


Big Mike said...

Heck, that's nothing. Last book I send to the editor went in with 95000 words and came back as a 86000 word book. Now that's editing.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Michell Plested said...

I agree that losing word count isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you aren't writing anything new in a partially done work, it can be. :)

Angelica Hart and Zi said...

Ang: Zi does that all the time.
Zi: Nope, she is the culprit. If I left it up to her, we'd still be on our first novel. We create an outline and make certain we stick to it.
Ang: (Whispers) Until I go back and edit the outline without him knowing.
Zi: I heard that.
You see, we can't even write a post without procrastinating. We went back and changed it twice. It started out with simply: Been there, done that. Great post!