Last spring, I wrote my first book. Officially, although barely, it’s over 40,000 words. That makes it a novel. I wrote the entire first draft in about six to eight weeks. When I get involved in the writing process I tend to spend several hours per day tapping away at the keyboard. I write pretty fast, about 1000 words per hour.
Most experts and advisors on writing will tell you to write first and edit later. I break that rule. I am constantly editing my work as part of the writing process. I tend to write in short sections that range in length from a couple of paragraphs to a few pages. After writing each section, I go back and check for errors and make changes. The chapters in my first book consisted of about five to seven of these smaller sections. Each time I completed a chapter, I read it, reread it, and edited. This process works well for me.
However, I don’t disregard the advice of experts. After I completed my first draft, I set it aside for about three months. That gave me time to disconnect myself from the emotional excitement that comes with the writing process. It’s also when the real work begins. When I pulled my manuscript out of the drawer, I spent several weeks reading, rereading, and editing. It’s hard labor. I much prefer the original writing process and have to twist my own arm to get through this first editing phase.
After I completed my editing, I was fortunate enough to have a friend and colleague, with a background in journalism, who was willing to edit the manuscript. It came back to me with many suggestions for further changes. Over the past week I did a final edit. The final edit was actually much easier and more enjoyable than the initial edit.
In the end, I’m certain that I’ve spent more time in the editing mode than in the writing mode. I’m also certain that my writing is stronger and more concise because I put the effort into editing. As with most creative individuals, I’m still my own toughest critic, and after editing the manuscript three to five times, I’m not 100 percent convinced my work is the best it could be. But at some point you have to say, “It is finished,” and move on to the next project.