Urges to keep editing instead continue the story

by Arsa
(Jakarta)

Question: (First, this is not my native language so I'm sorry if I make any mistake.)


Hi I am a beginner at writing novel. Actually I just have slight interest in reading novels, so at first I really don't know anything about writing one. Now I am learning just from internet and already have an idea of a story thanks to my hobby of watching movies. This site of yours is really helpful and deserves a lot of appreciation. Thanks :)

Now my novel is on progress, and I am having some difficult times lately. Every time I have some times to spare on my novel, I always have these urges to edit and revise parts I wrote. This is really hold the story from being developed and make me confused to continue the story.

Is there any advice or way to keep this urge to minimum portion, or even hold it completely?

Thanks. Sorry if my question is a bit weird and confusing.

Answer: Everyone has two parts to their mind. The creative part comes up with ideas, while the critical part judges. Both of these are important, but they don't work well together, as you are discovering.

One of the secrets to writing and creativity in general is to separate the times you are being creative from the times when you are being critical.

For instance, one approach is to refuse to do any editing, revising, or even re-reading until you have finished a first draft. This usually works best if you are writing the entire story in a very short time period, such as a month.

Once that first draft is finished, set it aside for week or more. Then go through it and make notes on everything you would like to fix.

Leave it for another week, and then begin your editing (aided by your notes). Use your creative faculty to find solutions to problems you wrote in your notes.

Setting aside the writing for a while helps to separate your creative and critical phases.

You can also do this process one chapter at a time. In other words

* Write a chapter.
* Set it aside (maybe for a few days).
* Look at it critically and make notes.
* Set it aside for another few days.
* Rewrite.
* Repeat all of the above with the next chapter.

Another approach is to write an outline of your novel ahead of time. You can do the same process of alternating creative and critical sessions. Once you have an outline you are happy with (which means you have probably solved many of your plot problems and your story is well developed). You can then write the first draft as above.

There will be less temptation to stop and revise because you have already worked out the story and feel confident about it.

Best of luck.

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Jul 16, 2015
Wow what a fast response :)
by: Arsa

Outline, yeah. I did considered to make a outline first before begin to write, but after some times i found myself i am a type of person who is not like to write the storyline first. I like to follow the story flow and let ideas come through my head while writing the draft.

But, to write a chapter and leave it for a day before revise it, i think that's a good idea.

And now, at least i already know that there's two parts of mind that i have to consider every time i continue writing. Thanks a lot :) Your fast reply is really helpful

Jul 16, 2015
If I may
by: Jacob

If I may offer my way of dealing with this problem. I have been writing my books for over 1.5 yrs now and the way I deal with this exact problem is to have a file named "EDIT". Whenever I feel the need to edit or go back and change something, I just write down a memory note in that file. That gives me the satisfaction of wanting to edit, while also allowing me to continue progressing.

To elaborate a little more, I always put things like day, time, place of when I fixed those notes. I also put "DONE" next to the note with the chapter and page so if what I changed doesn't work out, I can go back and find it easily. I don't ever delete anything from this file

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