I call myself an “iteration writer,” meaning that through a process of repeated passes, or iterations, I fine-tune my writing until I achieve the results I desire. While some writers write quickly and then edit extensively, I’m not one of them. My first draft is generally good – not finished good, but respectable.
When writing, each time I reach a lull in my flow of words, I back up a paragraph, tweaking as I review. This gives me a running start to plow into the blank portion of the next section. Sometimes the next sentence follows with ease, other times it’s a paragraph or more, but occasionally it’s merely a phrase or even a word. Regardless, I write until my mind produces no more words. Then I back up and do it again.
This method looks a bit differently depending on what I’m writing.
For books, I follow this process from beginning to end. Once at the finish line, I set it aside for a time, then I edit the entire thing. I make subsequent passes until I’m satisfied with the results. Then it goes to a copy-editor.
When writing articles, I perform multiple iterations in one sitting as I work from title to conclusion. Then I let my work ruminate. A day or two later I make a final read, editing as appropriate. I may repeat that process again before pronouncing it done. Then I ship it.
When blogging, I do all my iterations in one sitting, without the luxury of being able to cogitate on it for a day or two. I post it without a final edit. As a result, some posts need a minor tweak or typo fixed.
And then there’s Twitter, which doesn’t fit my writing process at all.
What is your preferred writing process? Are you an iteration writer like me, or do you write fast and then edit?
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!