I asked for questions, and you came up with some great ones!
Laura asks: What’s been the biggest writing epiphany you’ve had that you remember?
I’ve had several along the way, but the biggest was the realization that I had to write worse to write better.
Let me explain.
I had written a couple of novels a chapter at a time, revising and revising that chapter before moving on to the next. Not only was this a slow way to get through the first draft, I didn’t really have a concept of drafting (or outlining – those were later epiphanies). But most importantly, when it came time to rewrite (or even substantially revise) those chapters, I faced it with dread. I had invested so much time in them, it was painful to make structural (and necessary) changes.
The epiphany came when I was near the end of a novel and I decided to just speed-write to the end. I didn’t want to stop to polish, revise, etc., I just wanted to get the story out. When I went back to revise those chapters, I found it easy to slash and cut, to reshape whole sections of text, because I wasn’t heavily invested in it – I had written it too quickly to get attached. I knew it was bad when I wrote it, so when I came back to re-write it was easy to tear it to pieces.
When I was done, those chapters shone brighter than the rest of the MS.
That was when I realized that by writing worse on the draft, I could write better on the revision. That is also the official day my internal editor died. I’m sure it was natural causes, but the autopsy was complicated by the lack of a body. Anyway, nobody can prove I did anything.
Question for you: When did your internal editor die? What were the circumstances of her demise? Or is she still straggling along? (I performed a service for one of my critique partners one day and shot hers. I’m also available for hire.)
p.s. check out my shiny Tweet button in the bottom corner! Click on that, and you can tweet this post with twitter’s auto-shortened links. (Yes, I’m proud of myself for figuring out how to do this. No, it’s not really hard.)