Hello, friends! Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a monthly blog hop created by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted this month by Diedre Knight, Tonya Drecker, Bish Denham, Olga Godim, and JQ Rose. If you’re a writer and if you feel insecure about your writing life, click here to learn more about this awesomely supportive group!
A family emergency happened last week, and I’m still a little bent out of shape because of that. Getting back into writing after dealing with all that stress has been a struggle, so today I’m going to turn the floor over to my muse. She has something she wants to say, and maybe it’s something your muse would like to hear.
* * *
Greetings to all my fellow muses, inner critics, and motivational demons. I am James Pailly’s muse. It’s my job to give James guidance and inspiration in his writing life, but I am not the only source of guidance and inspiration he turns to (nor should I be). He reads and does research. He talks to people. He talks to other writers. Sometimes he finds good, sensible advice in this way; other times, the advice he gets is not so sensible.
What works for one writer will not necessarily work for others. Each writer is unique. Each writer is special. They have their own strengths and their own struggles. But writers are human, and humans can be tempted by broad generalizations and oversimplified explanations—especially when their own unique struggles start to feel overwhelming.
My writer is often told that he should not edit while he writes, as if editing and writing are two separate and distinct activities. First there’s a writing phase, then there’s an editing phase, and there’s supposed to be a hard line between the two. Perhaps some writers really do work this way. Perhaps a majority of them are able to operate this way. But that is not the way my writer works, and it never will be.
My writer will write a sentence or two—a paragraph—an exchange of dialogue—then he’ll go back and rewrite it all before moving on to the next part. He’ll finish a page, then go back and fix the page that came before it. He’ll finish a chapter, then tweak an earlier scene. Every word my writer writes is subject to change, at any time, for any reason, until the story is finished. If that means we have to go back and rewrite half of the whole book, that’s fine. The sooner we get started on those rewrites, the better. And every time some writing guru tells my writer he’s doing it wrong, I am there to remind my writer what he should already know about himself.
For my writer, writing and editing are thoroughly intermingled activities. It’s a messy process. It’s a labor-intensive process. My writer does get frustrated, sometimes, and wish there were an easier way. But this is what’s best for him, and deep down he knows it.
Should your writer write (and edit) the way mine does? I can’t tell you that. Ultimately, you will have to determine what is right and what is wrong for your own writer.