The Ego of the First Draft

Good news! I’m coming up on the last chapter of hand-written edits, then it will be on to retyping it into a new doc to add the changes. Through this difficult process of editing, I’ve learned a few things.

While writing the initial draft of my novel, I was immersed in the story as it appeared in my head, and didn’t think it would need much editing. When I actually got feedback and started editing, I realized my ego had lied to me. There weren’t many grammatical or spelling errors, but there have been a ton of changes to wording and content. At first, I was really depressed by all the things I wanted to change or fix. Every writer I’ve talked to seems to feel the same way, but we always hope to be the exception to the rule.

The red pen dragged me through, kicking and screaming the whole way, and angry at my ego for tricking me. And then…suddenly I wasn’t angry anymore.

For some reason, after editing chapter 27, something kind of clicked into place: We writers need that ego shield.

We’ve all heard quotes talking about how the first draft is supposed to be at least a little messy. Honestly, I didn’t like those quotes, because I felt I had put a lot of effort into making mine as good as I could the first time. While it’s true that I did put in a lot of work, I’ve realized no amount of time or perfectionism will create a problem-free first draft. The editing process is necessary for creating a well-rounded piece of writing.

The ego shield is there to protect us from our own harsh judgement and ensure we get our story finished. After we get it out of our heads and into physical form, the shield should disappear for the editing process. It is just as important for it to go away as it is to have it in the first place, because it has to come down for us to see our mistakes and fix them.

This is a natural progression. It can be depressing at times, but it’s worth it to push through. The magical thing you created and felt while writing is still there, a rough diamond that needs to be cut and polished.

Writing is a love story. The passion of when you first meet is intoxicating. Everything tastes sweeter, looks brighter, and generally feels better. Problems seem to fade into the background, and nothing exists outside your bubble of hapiness. After a while, the sparkle fades and you see them as they really are. You know their habbits (good and bad), as well as their more unsavory quirks.

True love means taking the other entity (person or writing) for exactly who they are, and letting them make you better as you do the same for them. That process can’t be forced. You cannot force someone or something to change without damaging them. You have to be willing to love the other, despite their imperfections. Ideally, with each of you in a state of unconditional love, necessary changes will come naturally.

Anyway, that’s what was on my mind today, so I hope it made sense. The bottom line? I’m ok with the imperfectness of my MS, and I’m happy I get the chance to smooth it out.

Have an awesome day, everyone!



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