I just spent a few months writing and rewriting and editing and proofreading a story a tad under 4000 words. Clearly if I didn’t have a velcro baby it wouldn’t have taken me so long but the process still would have been intense. I know this is one of those things that new writers have to discover for themselves: writing is work, not just creative expression.
I used to think I could write a story and the first draft would be brilliant. I am a pretty polished first draft writer (ugh that sounds arrogant) – I might make typos like any normal person but my work isn’t riddled with them as I tend to correct as I go along. I am one of those annoying writers who will sit for minutes trying to think of the perfect word (yes I’m learning to let this go and come back later!) All of the early stories published on this blog are first drafts. All need improvement – I know that now!
I think it’s the process of working with an editor that has shown me what my stories can become. I tend to write in that first flush of creativity, blurt it all out (mostly coherently), and sit back and think “aaah that was awesome”. A bit like sex (ok I can’t think of another analogy sorry!). In the blurting I know exactly where my story is going but it takes beta readers and editors to help me figure out how to actually structure the plot to enhance the clarity and strength of the story. I think plot is probably my weak point. It’s the process of redrafting and editing and re-editing and tweaking that makes your story readable. The first draft is brilliant fun; it’s the creative surge, the extraction of something my mind has created and putting it out there for the world to see. But the work that comes after is what makes that story great.
I write for me, but I want to be read. And I want readers to enjoy the ride, to understand what is going on (mostly) and not be puzzling over logical errors or plot holes. So I do the work. And I’m starting to actually enjoy it.