First Draft: Editing and Writing at the Same Time

One of my past posts was about writing your first draft. My advice to new writers was to just begin writing and not worry about editing until you had everything down. And this is great advice, but it isn’t how my first draft goes.

Now the way I write will certainly not work for everyone, but I thought I would throw it out there as another option for those writers working on their first draft. Instead of waiting until the first draft is finished to begin editing, I have someone else reading and making suggestions as I go. That person is my husband.

proofSo here is how it works. I usually write a few chapters. I go back and re-read them but don’t usually mess with them too much. I am mainly making sure the sentences are complete and make some sort of sense. I then give those chapters to my husband to read while I continue writing.

My husband will write comments about things that don’t make sense or areas needing improvement. I then take his comments and type them into the appropriate sections (highlighting them so I can find them again). If it is something really simple to change, I sometimes make the changes right away. When I have time (i.e. I get writers block or can’t get motivated to work), I go back and start changing the story based on what he noted.

I find it helpful to do this as I write because there is no use writing the whole thing if the story needs to go in a different direction. This saves me from having to re-write entire sections or from throwing out pages of my novel that no longer match my goal.

Or it means I correct a problem before it gets too big to easily fix later. An example would be on my current WIP Finding Alexandria. The main character has visions when she touches certain people. When my husband read the first vision, he said it was not clear when the vision ended and the current situation continued. It was an easy fix but one I would rather know about now than have to go back and hope to find every vision and repair it. Now, I just remember each time a vision occurs that I need to make it clear to the reader when it is over.

Using this method means that by the time I am done with my first draft, my story really has been gone over at least twice. Instead of my second read through being one where I cut out scenes, I use it as a time to tighten up my novel with less to rework.

Now I know this method won’t work for many authors. One, you have to be willing to let someone read your WIP when it is in a very rough stage. To be able to use this method, you have to accept criticism and comments about your work all the while knowing that you are NOT done with it. And, two, you have to have someone who understands that this is ROUGH. That it is a first draft and that the final story will not look probably anything alike. Luckily for me, I have already found that person.

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9 thoughts on “First Draft: Editing and Writing at the Same Time

  1. That’s exactly how I’m working my current WIP and it is working amazingly well. I know there are places I plan to go back and revise even more but at least right now, I know I’m on the right track. My CP is reacting just the way I expect future readers to and that is my goal.

  2. G.B. Miller says:

    Back when I was writing fresh stuff (now tweaking an old novella), I would always print out what I had previously written and stick it in a three ring binder. During my breaks/downtime at work, I would often go through the notebook and write editing notes. By the time I would have the first draft written, I would be ready to attack the second draft by applying all the notes from the first draft.

    Very rarely would I have to stop what I was writing in order to fix a scene so that it would make sense.

  3. […] ahead but when I say I have done my first draft it is more than that. You see I have a habit of writing and editing at the same time. While I am writing, my husband is reading completed chapters. As he makes […]

  4. […] I have mentioned in the past, I write the first draft and edit it at the same time. As I am writing out the story, my husband is reading chapters and making […]

  5. […] of writing. But I don’t tend to “free” write as their website suggests. I usually write and edit at the same time so that when I am done with my first draft there isn’t as much editing needed as there would […]

  6. […] Don’t worry if what you write is perfect but get the ideas down on paper. I have a habit of writing and editing at the same time. But for someone new to this, it is probably easier to just write. And no one said you need to […]

  7. […] all sorts of problems that might crop up from writing with just a rough outline/idea of a story. I write and edit at the same time. So after I write a few chapter, my husband reads and comments on my WIP. I then typically go back […]

  8. […] to write. I have already covered characters, starting scenes, ending scenes, story arcs, setting, editing, grammar, covers, titles, pricing, and so many other […]

  9. […] a “draft.” As I write the first draft, I am already going back and reworking it (see my post on editing and writing at the same time). And the second draft may take just as long as the first because it is multiple reads and […]

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