Polish later?

“Just write. Get the words out there. Plenty of time to polish later.”

Such is the advice I’ve been given for a few years now. “Don’t worry about making it pretty. That’s what edits are for. Just get the word-count or you’ll never finish.”

Uh-huh. That hasn’t been working so well for me. Sure, I can write 5000 words in a day. But it’s crap. And I have no patience for editing. Once the words are out, I won’t go back and rewrite every sentence. This explains why, recently, I’ve ended up with some hefty piles of words, and left them shoved under the bed.

I write because I love words and ideas. I don’t care so much for the whole story as I care for its parts. I like to immerse myself in the world, chase down details and polish characters. That’s why I write. My false obsession with word-count is why I’m forgetting my love of writing.

I wrote a blog post last night. It was a little thing, just a story of walking up a hill. In word-count mode, I’d say ‘I walked up the hill’. When I’m doing what I love, I write a story about walking up the hill, a glimpse inside the mind of the person walking up the hill.

This manuscript has been good for me. My goal was to write 80,000 words by January 1. First off, I realized that I was aiming for too high an original word-count. The rough draft is 90% complete at 31,000 words. Secondly, this is a story that needs to be immersive. There’s little suspense in the plot, compared to the gore. It’s about the emotion, the experience in getting to the end. Nightmare is feeling the monster’s hand on your shoulder, kissing it, knowing it intimately. I need to immerse myself in the words if I am to immerse anyone else in it.

Yes, this makes me a slower writer. But two of what I consider my best stories are the ones I worked on slowly, carefully.

Language is an art. Unfortunately, it is a quickly-dying art.


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