Confession Time: I Revise as I Go


So you know how everyone says write the draft straight through without stopping? Well, I don’t do that.

It was during a chat with my fabulous blog buddy, Gwen Stephens in DeKalb, IL, that I confessed this for the first time. It was my dirty little writing secret.

She gave me the courage to share it here with you. Thanks Gwen!


Confession time:

I usually draft about 50 pages before my drafting well becomes dry. Words aren’t coming as easy. I’m scrambling to meet my word count. And I’m suddenly unsure of everything I’ve written. It’s all crap.

That’s when I take 2-3 days to reread what I’ve written and make revisions. Usually there’s something I need to figure out in those pages that will allow me to keep writing. Or I need to connect deeper with the characters’ motives and mindset to write onward.

Even with an outline, I have a tendency to meander into my story. And it takes me about 50 pages to really get into the flow of the characters again.

In the first draft, I am quite literally telling myself the story and then figuring out how to show it to the readers in an actual scene. That telling needs to be cut.

Also I am especially awful at opening a scene for the first time. It takes me 5-10 lines in before I feel anchored. And usually those 5-10 lines need to go.

So yes, I revise as a I go.

But should you?

That’s really only a question you can answer.

And it depends on how you write and how good you are setting and sticking with deadlines.

I can decide to revise for two days and then plunge back into drafting. And actually stick to the plan.

I can also keep draft while revising earlier pages of the same manuscript. That’s not easy. And I don’t recommend it unless you really really know how to compartmentalize things in your mind.

Lots of writers get bogged down in revising and wanting to make it perfect and can spend months on those first 50 pages. They lose the flow of the story and they may not get back to drafting. For them revising as they go is  the surest way to an unfinished manuscript.

But if you are stuck or losing your momentum and you need to reground yourself in the story and you can jump in and out of revising and be content with incremental improvements, then revising as you go might work for you.

Where do you stand on the drafting process? Do you just write the whole thing straight through in one go and never look back? Or do you find you tinker as you go?



For anyone who bought an earlier version of Six Train, I have a limited supply of nifty Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Bronze Winner stickers for the book.


If you’d like one for your copy, please email me at kourtney (dot) heintz (at) yahoo (dot) com. Give me your mailing address and I will get it out to you this week!



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33 Responses to Confession Time: I Revise as I Go

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