Doing What I Want vs. Doing What Must Be Done

I enjoy writing. I know there are many writers out there that say they “don’t enjoy writing, but they enjoy having written.” I’m not one of those writers. Brainstorming a new story idea and then turning that idea into words on paper are my favorite parts of the author life.

I don’t like revising. Revising feels superfluous to my brain because I’ve already written the story, so why would I want to write it again? It’s sort of a ‘been there, done that’ mentality. Unfortunately, to quote Ernest Hemingway, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Revision is a part of the process and revising is what gets books published.

And so I write, and write, and write. Eventually I finish the first draft of a manuscript. I know I should revise it, but I give in to that piece of advice–the one that’s talking to my soul–that says to put the book in a drawer for a month and not think about it. The theory goes that if you take a break from your work, you’ll come back to the revision process with fresh eyes and a new perspective. But what’s a writer to do while waiting out that month? Start another book of course!

So, now I find myself in my current situation. There are two books that I consider myself to be ‘currently revising’ (this is me ignoring the handful on my shelf that have never been revised). There’s a new book in progress. Each night when I sit down to work, I have to make a decision. Do I write? Do I edit? Or do I attempt a Herculean effort and do both?

Some nights the fun wins, and I put words on the page. Some nights responsibility wins and I crank through some edits and revisions. There’s no right answer, no one way of doing things. In any career or anything in life, you need to take the good with the bad. In order to get to write stories for a living, I need to revise those stories into something someone might actually read. Life is about balance.