Editing too soon

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I’ve completed 3 novels (not yet published), but they’re written and in various stages.

The first one (I call it my practice novel) tumbled out of me. It was practically effortless to write. It was born out of an idea I’d been sitting on for about 15 years, so it was more than familiar to me before I even began the first chapter. I knew the characters well, and I knew what they wanted and how they intertwined.

I was also naïve and had no idea what went into getting something published. I just wanted to write.

My second novel (the sequel to the first novel) actually became absorbed into the first novel. So again, I knew the characters. But after researching the chances of getting a first novel ever published, I set it aside…for now.

The third novel is currently out to beta readers to help me catch things I’ve overlooked. That one, I will try to get published, preferably in the traditional sense, but I haven’t ruled out self-publishing either.

I’ve just started my fourth novel, and it’s moving slowly. In part, because I’m now working part time and have to “schedule” my writing time around work, kids, husband, dinner, oh, and sleeping. For the first few novels I had the luxury of not working and could write all day long if the mood struck me. But then real life kicked in.

I think the reason this novel is progressing so slowly is because, well, I know too much. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t profess to come anywhere close to my published counterparts, not even a little bit. But I think I’ve read too much about writing.

I now find myself over-thinking my sentence structure and word usage instead of just writing. I know that the first chapter is rarely the “actual” first chapter, so I’m re-arranging the chapters in my head as I’m writing, and I’m only 7,000 words in.

I’m thinking too much instead of writing, and I don’t know how to get back to just writing. I can’t “unlearn” what I already know, all the research that I’ve done, and it’s messing with my process.

Here’s where I need some advice from my fellow writers: how do you block out your “inner editor” during the first draft? How do you ignore the compulsion to edit as you go? Or is there a way to use that to my advantage?

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6 thoughts on “Editing too soon

  1. How to silence the inner editor… I guess I use my mindset to block it out. For the first draft I just want to experience the adventure with my fictional people so I write in a way that doesn’t slow us down (like how you described your first draft, I let it tumble). See, I daydream as I write and stuff happens faster than I can type. That forces me to throw down key words/phrases (i.e. specific reactions, metaphors) to be able to continue without stopping the action. Or it would be like watching a cool movie and hitting ‘pause’ every time the hero did something to decide if he ‘walked’ or ‘strode,’ etc. I want to have fun first, after that I can critique it to death. So essentially I don’t give my inner editor a chance to talk.

    Draft 1: like dumping all my chosen Legos on the floor (colorful but doesn’t have to be pretty).
    Draft 2: rearranging them into a house.
    Drafts 3+: redesigning that house into a castle or palace or cathedral…

    Don’t know if that helps. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This post describes my feelings exactly when I write! I have attempted to write novels in the past, but have always gotten caught up in wanting to edit it too soon, or believing that it wasn’t good enough! I am finally starting to work on my first “real” novel, and am not struggling as much, but definitely feel stressed! The comments on this post will definitely be of use to me! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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