I’ve started writing something new. It’s been a while since I did this. Over the past couple of years I’ve been getting to grips with being a carer, and although I did start a couple of ‘new’ things in this time, mostly I’ve been rewriting.
Now, five thousand words into my new project, I remember how easy it is to fail.
I’ve got the story very clear in my head. I’ve written notes about plot, characters, the emotional journey of my protagonist, the sub-plots, climax and resolution. I’ve mapped out a few twists and turns, and some of the scenes are really vivid in my mind. Only last night I was excited about progress and told my partner how confident I was feeling about this one...
And then today, darkness fell. It blurred my vision with stupid details that aren’t important and compelled me to rewrite scenes, adding colour, texture and pointless observations that took me off on various unhelpful tangents. Before I knew it, my brain was tangled, my vision was clouded, and I started to doubt myself.
Rewriting or editing before the first draft is complete is a mortal sin. I know this, not just because that’s what every successful author tells you, but because I have a computer full of half-finished/barely-started books that got edited too soon and dug themselves an early grave.
So, enough is enough. I’ve hung up my writer’s hat for the day and sent my critical voice on vacation. Tomorrow I shall return to first draft simplicity and to getting the story out of my head and onto paper. I’ll worry about everything else at some other point in the distant future...
Writing may well be rewriting, but if you do it too early, you risk writing your precious prose to death.