Writing Wednesdays, by Stephanie Thomas

I am often asked about giving writing advice, and I mostly respond with the same thing, because it’s the most valuable piece of advice that I’ve learned while completing my Masters in writing. You will be surprised how many writers DON’T take this advice, as I’ve been surprised. But, before I go on any further, I want to make it clear that everyone has their own writing routine, and there isn’t any wrong or right way to go about it.

So, what is the advice, you might be asking by now? It’s simple: Write first, edit later.

Easy peasy, right?

But it’s not. Especially if you are a writer who likes to write and edit, write and edit, write and edit. Or, edit while writing. It’s not an easy habit to get into if you haven’t already started it already.

The reasoning behind the “write first, edit later” mantra is also simple. Generally, a writer is always thinking up new ideas, doing so even while they are writing. This is a natural part of being a storyteller. In particular, for me, it’s a part of being a “pantser” and not a “plotter.” I let my characters lead me, and I don’t keep them bound by a synopsis.

But, if we are always thinking up new ideas and not immediately putting them “down on paper” per se, then those ideas are quickly lost. Editing while writing tends to slow the writer down because firstly, they are spending way too much time perfecting and not enough time actually writing, and secondly, their ideas are being lost in a process that should be saved for AFTER most of their ideas have made it into the manuscript.

I have some writer friends who have shared with me that they’ve spent hours writing a paragraph, trying to get it right, and it’s always been mind-boggling to me. In an hour, I can generally write about two thousand new words, and here they have been, trying to get less than a hundred words absolutely perfect before moving on. Time is a precious thing in the writing world (and sometimes a very frustrating one), too precious to waste. Your paragraph can wait, I promise you. Move on! Keep writing!

The next time you sit down to start your writing, keep this new tip in mind. I promise you, when you are done writing, your words will still be there, waiting for you to edit them. Write first, edit later, my friends, and see how much more you’ll get done!

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