I’m always trying to get my students to embrace the idea that writing is a process–not a product. I encourage (and sometimes force) them to produce draft after draft after draft.
And I’m not just talking the talk. I never just sit down at the computer and come up with something brilliant and ready to go! Anything worthy of being read goes through many drafts. I often have other people read over my work, make suggestions, and then I revise and edit some more (the exception to this is poetry because I find that too intensely personal for peer review. I mostly write poetry for myself and having recently submitted it to scrutiny via publication in Whispers, Shouts, and Songs was very scary for me).
Everything I write starts out on paper. I have tons of writing notebooks that are often scattered throughout the house and one in the car or a bag I’m carrying, so I always have one available if an idea pops into my head or I feel the urge to write something down.
I can never start on the first page of a notebook–it feel too formal and makes me feel pressured to write something brilliant right away. So I usually flip to a random page to begin something new. Thus, my notebooks are filled in no particular order with blank pages in between entries. Many pages also have doodles or pictures from magazines pasted in–images that sparked ideas, even if not yet fully formed. And sometimes one little poem will appear again page after page with changes–small and large. Things are crossed out, arrows point to where things should be but aren’t yet. Alternate vocabulary choices are jotted in the margins. It’s basically a big mess until it isn’t. And then it might make it to a computer. Maybe.
Here’s an example of the growth of “Death by Laundry,” (<–link) which I still consider unfinished despite its inclusion in the anthology Whispers, Shouts, and Songs. I hate the way it ends.
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3 responses to “Writing–It’s a Process”
You and I are very much the same on this. Drafts make for better writing and if I’m writing something close to my heart, I force myself to revise–and you can always tell!
I also have many small notebooks.
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The small notebooks are like an addiction. The Dollar General has good ones for $1–the spiral-bound, so they lay flat. Those are my faves.
Drafts. Drafts… Drafts! I write so many drafts, I think I can understand why my gas bill is so high!
Great post — and I do wish more writers would spend more effort on redrafting!