Writing and revising is all writing

I have an aversion to word count as a sole measure of writing progress.  In the profession, word count is a tool, a device for editors to identify scale and to help authors develop structure.

1195430130203966891liftarn_Writing_My_Master_s_Words_svg_medYet it’s popularly treated as a way of measuring how far the work is getting ahead. But when the draft’s finished – what then? The reality of writing is that a draft is far from a complete work. Often it’s only half way to finished, maybe less.

My tip today – why not think of the whole thing as writing? Drafting, re-writing, revising, editing – all these are different aspects of the wider creative process. What counts are the shapes and patterns of the written work – the way it takes a reader on an emotional journey.

The point is that the whole journey is there to be enjoyed. It should be fun (even though some writing is hard yakka).

Put another way, how we get there as writers – our own journey – is a complete experience.

Your thoughts?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: More writing tips, NaNo prompts and more – watch this space.

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13 comments on “Writing and revising is all writing

  1. JB Vincent says:

    Great post and I couldn’t agree more. I treat the whole process as writing. Keeps me sane – relatively.

  2. jakeescholl says:

    I absolutely agree. You can write 1,800 words a day, but how many of those words will you use later on?

  3. L. Palmer says:

    I just wrote my latest blog post on that fact that writing really should be a fun experience. If not, why are we working so hard to do it?

  4. In a recent interview Donna Tartt said she cut eight months of work from The Goldfinch because she realised it was going in the wrong direction. But she was fine about it because she needed to write the bit she wasn’t going to use in order to write the stuff she would.

    • Nate Adam says:

      Wow, that’s really interesting to hear. Puts things into perspective as I go through my own editing struggles.

      By the way Matthew, thanks for another thought-provoking and encouraging post!

  5. I absolutely agree. My best writing is in revision, and it’s a process in evolution. I know everyone works differently, but if I relied on that first draft, my writing would be poor. Great post!

    • Thank you. Yes, revision’s part of the mix – and for me (and I suspect also for you) the best part. I sometimes imagine it as finishing a sculpture, after the first draft has rough-hewn the stone.

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