This post is a response to a post on Jodie Llewellyn’s blog. She is a writer, focusing on young-adult literature. Although I am not a writer by trade, I still related to her post. The big question was, “Do you edit as you write?”
Interestingly, that is something that I used to do all the time when I would write papers in high school–try to make all of my edits in progress, rather than putting all my ideas on a paper and then deleting. However, a few experiences in high school significantly changed this. This especially was the case when I got to my senior year, and did “wordworks” as daily homework, which were 500-word essays, either on prompts or analysis.
Then, the major papers for each unit were often created by smashing wordworks together, and then adding and subtracting from there. This was a novel concept for me, but after using them and seeing what it is like to have a bunch of ideas already and then to pare down to a manageable paper, I thought it was a great thing. Especially after I broke away from the rigidity of DAVIE.
And in my freshman year at UNL, the instructor (Bob Milliken) had recommended free-writing as a good strategy–just writing whatever ideas you have, without regard for the flow or the particular words. His idea is that it is easier to delete than it is to add, and in some sense I feel that is true. Or, at least as some other commenters in the Llewellyn thread implied, avoiding editing until a meaningful chunk of the writing is done. Milliken claimed to use free-writing as a major technique in the beginning stages of his dissertation, and if that worked, wonderful!
Nowadays, I never edit my writing in the middle, other than correcting typographical errors (and sometimes rewording a sentence if my initial formulation ends up being awkward and/or confusing). The influence from AP Lit/Comp and English 150H is strong in me for this regard!
Some of the commenters said that constant editing while writing slows them down. I am definitely guilty as charged for constant editing in one sense, though… when solving math problems. I always seem to backtrack and double-check my work, as I am very details-oriented on projects that I must do. However, when it comes to mathematical modelling, there is often a “correct” answer, unlike creative writing.
Although that last sentence may open up a can of worms in my ignorance…
Today is the seventeenth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes two weeks and three days.