What Does Editing-While-Writing Mean?

“There is no right way to write a book; therefore, every way is wrong.”
— Lester D. Crawford

What does editing-while-writing mean? I assume it must mean different things to different people since I can imagine many different potential meanings. Just as how every possibility is played out in various universes in the multiverse, each potential meaning of editing-while-writing must exist in someone’s mind somewhere.

I don’t worry about it. I just write.

“I am a word wright. I write words. The right words.”
— Lester D. Crawford

Over the years, I have tried every writing method suggested. I think I did this because I was insecure about my knowledge and skills, so I looked for the magic bullet to make me a success. I settled upon doing what is comfortable and natural for me with no concern for how other people say I should write.

I seem to have two prongs on which I stick my writing.

One prong consists of random ideas. I keep a voice recorder with me at all times, in all places; always at the ready for when those ideas spring forth (I wonder what people think when they hear someone dictating a brilliant idea from inside a bathroom stall). I recorded one last night: “Oh, good, my Dragon’s here.” Now I am excited to find a place to use it (and I am not concerned what the people in the bathroom thought I was talking about).

The other prong is more structured. I use a mind mapping tool (FreeMind) to help me explore ideas and to plan. When people talk about fast writing, I think that is equivalent to what I do as I mind map. I toss ideas on the screen, rearrange them, add, subtract, brainstorm, go crazy, and laugh maniacally. When finished with the mind map, I copy and paste it into a document as an outline. Then the fun of filling in the details begins.

I have a mind map of the overall story, beginning to end, with all major plot points planned. For each chapter I make a more detailed mind map that I use as the outline to write the chapter. Occasionally, I mind map individual scenes when I cannot quite get a handle on them. One time I mind mapped a single paragraph that I could not figure out how to construct.

As I write the details, I often find I drift from the draft in the mind map, but the mind map is just a tool to help me write in the right direction. As more story details, or story world details, or character details are revealed to me, I sometimes must go back and re-plan; however, I do typically find my way to my destination, although often by a slightly different path than planned.

As I write the details, I write as best as I can: proper spelling, proper grammar, proper sentence structures, proper paragraph structures, etc. At this stage, my compulsion for perfection drives me to do as best as I can. I am not saying I create the final product here, but what I write at this stage is something that pleases my inner judge of perfection (regardless of how imperfect that judge is).

I also make multiple passes through the story, retelling the story repeatedly, to ensure I have told the complete story, that all secrets have been revealed to me, and that all threads are properly woven and tied. Lastly, I do a final edit and polish thus creating the perfect gem. Then a real editor looks at it and we all know what happens — a portion of my soul is extinguished by editor marks.

Now that I have finished self-aggrandizing, I summarize by saying the following.

Do not fear experimenting with suggestions other writers make about writing methods, one never knows what one might learn, but ultimately you must create your own, unique process, a process that works for you. I find it remarkable how similar all people are, but within that sea of sameness, there is actually great diversity. Therefore, there is no right way to write; there is only your way.

(I posted this comment in response to a post on the Innocent Flower blog, liked it, and decided to post it on my blog as well.)

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