Know your process

writing processLast weekend, I attended a very inspiring conference where I figured out quite a lot about my main characters. I made myself a list of notes of things I wanted to do in the manuscript. The lectures had pulled a bunch of pivotal scenes into focus. Note: I know where this manuscript will end, but I haven’t written all the way to THE END.

This led me to a debate I often have with students.

Should I go back?

Or should I write to the end and then address those scenes?

I know my tendencies. (I have many journals filled with them.) When I revise too soon, I tend to get swallowed up in scenes. I get tunnel vision. I start to obsess about voice and words, and the whole time, I’m probably making more darlings than anything else.

My gut said: write to the end. Those ideas are on paper. You can address them later.

But my heart said: what if they change the ending?

I decided to ignore my own process and go back to the beginning. (I rationalized: Really, lots of people do that!!!) I went in and looked at one of the early chapters I knew needed attention. I did what I often do: revised A LOT. This week, I think I made that scene GORGEOUS, but I also lost my momentum. (I really want to finish this draft.)

So today, I’m going to do what I should have done: I’m going back to where I left off. I’m leaving the rest of my notes for later. I’m going to get to THE END before high school graduation!

Wish me luck!

Remember: in the writing process, the more a story cooks, the better. (Doris Lessing)


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