Drafts Are Meant to be Chopped

I had a moment last week where I had to confront a kind of ugly truth. I was being precious with my draft. I was being precious with my draft, and it was stalling my progress.

Last week I was struggling through a chapter. I had finally finished the chapter I had been struggling through for a few days, rewritten the next one, and then found myself stalling again. I took some time away from my manuscript to work through some scene work. I wanted to refresh my mind about what I was trying to accomplish with the scene I was struggling in and trying to approach from several different angles. I realized that each time I was stalling, it wasn’t a place within the writing or within the action of my characters. It was because I didn’t want to chop up the work I’d already done. I was really thinking about my word count and didn’t want to chop the 600 words that very clearly needed to go in order to make room for the new 600 words that needed to be written. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to fix the scene, because I did. And it wasn’t because I loved what was there, because I really didn’t. It was that feeling of, “I wrote these words and they represent my time and effort and choice to be writing and not spending time with friends or family” that came in and kind of knocked me back for a moment. I sat with that feeling once I’d found the name for it and just let it be. Once I’d collected myself, I sent the feeling on its way and confronted the chapter again. I cut the 600 words and left myself some notes for what I needed to come back and rewrite and then let myself walk away for the night. It was a big feeling and I needed some time away from it before I jumped back in. I was reminded that we all think of the technical aspects of what it takes to write a story and to craft a good manuscript and sometimes I don’t give the emotional side of all of it the time and respect it deserves. That was my moment last week to confront it. Then, the next day, I got back to work.

This week I am going to continue doing some work on my office area and working on this revision. I am hoping to have this current revision complete by the end of July which means eighteen chapters stand between me and completing that goal. I am in the middle of Act 2 and the time I took last week to refresh my work on writing scenes is going to help this act shine. I know the beats I need to hit and the action that is going to take place, but the pacing of that action needs to be paid attention to and the goal of each scene needs to be forefront of my mind as I go forward. When I write, I go where the characters go and let them lead the way. Pulling back to do my revising, I try to be more balanced in letting the characters lead and following the path set before them. I want to be with them, but I also want to pull back enough to include all of the details that are needed to tell the story well. I do know that once this revision is done, I will get feedback on it and then go back in it again for another round of revision, BUT the draft I am writing right now is so much stronger than the one before. I know that draft I write after will be even stronger than this one, but not if I don’t get through this one first. I have to keep to my timeline, keep to my scene goals, and keep chopping away to get this draft to the next best version of itself.

In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.

Happy Writing!

2 thoughts on “Drafts Are Meant to be Chopped

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  1. It is so hard to cut words! I always have to save the old draft separately or in scrivener make a new scene card so I still have the words somewhere, it makes the cutting slightly less painful

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    1. Yes! I finally started saving copies of the draft before I start revising so I know I have it as backup in case I want to go back to it. Yes, knowing it’s there makes it much less painful to let go too. 🙂

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