Charles Willeford died 19 years ago yesterday (March 27), so I found myself reading bits of Don Herron's excellent Willeford bio. A piece of writing advice jumped out at me:

"[The secret to writing is:] Rewriting. First, one word at a time. After you get enough pages done, you have something to read. If you can read it you can revise it. If you revise it enough times, you can come up with something pretty good. All writing is like that; it couldn't be any other way." (From Willeford's THE WOMAN CHASER.)

I know writers who do one draft, and never revise. I also know writers who'll put the same page through its paces 30 or 40 times.

What is it for you? Does the magic happen during that first draft, or does it happen with rewriting?

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I'm trying to do this now. I get stuck when I do too much revising while writing the first draft.

Editing, once I've got that first draft, is a joy -- no matter how many times I have to go through it.

Re: throwing out a draft
I've only done that once -- with the book that will come out next Jan. I had to write the entire thing twice. Damn frustrating. But it simply wasn't editable (is that a word?) and had to be pitched the first time around.
These days, I treat my first draft like a rehearsal. I do my best to get everything right first time out, but it always turns out I'm just assembling scenes: getting a few basics to work with, and so on.

It's pretentious-sounding, but I do see it as the equivalent of making a film. Getting through the first draft is just collecting as much raw footage as possible: more than I'll ever need. The drafts that follow are about editing it all together, 'shooting' new scenes, changing the lighting, getting the structure right. And then, finally, smoothing the joins and sorting the grammar.

I find it takes the pressure off a bit, thinking about it like that. Most of my problem lies in turning up, but if I know I'm only having a stab then I don't worry so much and just start typing.
I wish I could revise like you Duane. But instead, I have to write a full draft, let some others read it and then revise. We'll see if it works this time around, but who knows if it always will... I'm interested in the other results.
I am one of those that puts a page by page through the wringer thirty times.

I tend to get the creative writing juices and write, finishing a few more chapters,
then might get stalled or feel I'm not as productive as I started, so I'll read and do rewrites of
earlier chapters.

For me, it not only strengthens and correct errors, but gets me kicked started again
with new ideas or better detail.

My magic happens in the first draft, but it happens with rewrite,
both. There are two kinds of magic. The draft being the creative magic, and the
rewrite being the perfected, detailed, new and improved, magic.


Aren't writers complicated?
It's according to the book. Although I find lately that I revise more.

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