How To Write First And Edit Later

A Tumblr ask:

I’m writing a story, and I have big things planned for it such as certain scenes, plot twist, and characters but for the life of me I can’t get the first chapter done. I’ve must have re written it five times already but can’t find something I like.

My answer:

This is my advice. Pure suggestions. You don’t have to agree with it or follow it. You don’t even have to like it.

As always, what works for me might not work for you. And vice versa. All I ask is you do what works for you.

Write first. Edit later.

Easier said than done. But if you can write a complete draft first and edit your work later, you won’t be stuck on the first chapter. Don’t let yourself revise what you wrote yesterday. Even if that means making a separate word document every day. Even if that means filling up an entire page of a notebook so you don’t have space to make edits tomorrow. Do it. Perhaps you could try participating in NaNoWriMo. When you adopt the mindset of having to write 50,000 words in a month, you don’t have the luxury of editing every day. Unless you’re a machine. Unless you don’t sleep. Unless you’re a machine and you don’t sleep. In that case, as you were.

Make your plans happen.

Develop a character you love. Add the plot twist(s) in. Write that scene you’ve been dying to write. Allow your plans to excite you and motivate you enough to finish what you started.

Write what you want to write, when you want.

Create a chapter nearing the climax or a scene at the very end if that’s what you want to write right now. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to write your story in chronological order. As in you don’t have to write the very first word to the very last in one attempt. Write your essays, stories, etc., out of order if the need arises. Just remember to rearrange everything during the revision stage.

Keep going.

Things will work if you work. So work. Then keep working. Even when you’re uninspired. Even when you’re unsure. Even when the world is ending.

Move on.

(Contradictory advice? Check.) Forget about the first chapter. Put aside what you’ve written. If you’re really struggling, move on completely. Shelve this story for now. You can always return to it later.

Focus on the process, not the result.

Enjoy the act of writing. You’re more likely to like what you’ve written if you liked writing it. So make the process as enjoyable as you can by writing what you want, when you want, where you want, how you want.

Happy writing! After all, what matters most is whether or not you’re happy while you’re writing.

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6 thoughts on “How To Write First And Edit Later

  1. I edit a little sometimes, if nothing else it refreshes the story for me, but generally battering out the skeleton is ideal and actually (I sort of just thought of this) it gives the writer more to do than basic editing, there’s still flesh to be put on, writing to be written.

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