Howdy, howdy! Another week gone by in the blink of an eye. It seems like the only way I can keep up with the days is by the difficulty of the crossword, and that’s not a reliable measure. Maybe I’m just being over-dramatic. Anyway, this week, I wanted to talk about another new-to-me revision technique that I’ve been trying. It’s another suggestion from the same book I mentioned last week, The Last Draft by Sandra Scofield. Basically, you type up the new draft in a blank file.
In pre-word processor days, writers had to type up each new draft with their trusty typewriter (or write them out by hand if you want to go back that far). There was no copying and pasting. No saving the source file under a new name and making changes in the text you’ve already written. Sure, they had the hardcopy next to them, but still… it sounds like a long and tedious process. But it’s worth a shot when you’re having trouble getting into the revision flow.
I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t followed Scofield’s advice as thoroughly as I could. She suggests printing two copies your first draft and doing a bunch of exercises and making notes on the hardcopies and all of that, then revising into a new document from there. That’s too much work for me. I’m not being lazy, just mobility-impaired. Why struggle with shuffling a bunch of papers around when I can use track changes in Word to make notes and achieve similar results? Technology makes my life easier and more independent, so I try to make use of it when I can. If I get stuck in the revision process, then I’ll back up and try it another way.
However, I did decide to follow her advice about typing the new draft up from scratch. I open the first draft, highlight the next 1,000ish words (because it gives me a visual of how much I want to get through that day), then open my current draft file and get to typing. Even though I was skeptical at first, it has been super helpful. It allows me to focus on the voice of the narrator, which was shaky early in the first draft, and to fix things in my head as I type up the new version. I’ve added stuff and taken stuff away. I play with paragraph breaks and punctuation. It just feels more acceptable to change things around on a blank page than it does on a completed draft. I’m not disrespecting what I’ve already written, I’m making it better. Even the stuff that I’ve sworn I was going to type up verbatim ended up getting tweaked to fit the new flow. It’s been a freeing experience.
I, personally, like starting at the beginning and working through things paragraph by paragraph. But even if you like to jump around and work on different scenes in different orders, typing everything up in a new file could be helpful. I know people who write their first drafts by hand and type their second draft from that. There are so many ways to do this whole writing thing. I’m constantly tweaking my own method, in case you haven’t noticed. So, if you’re stuck or just haven’t found a way that consistently works for you, don’t be afraid to try a new process.
As always, feel free to share your own methods, comments, or questions here or on my social media pages!