The back and forth writing habit

January 3, 2020

I confess. I have a habit that’s either good or bad. You decide.

My writing coach thinks it’s bad. Just keep going and worry about revising later.

But I’m trying to be more positive and more accepting of who I am and not stress over certain things, and so I see upside to this bad habit.

When I sit down to write a chapter of my memoir manuscript, I fire off a good 1,000 to 2,000 words, and then I realize how awkward the writing is. I cringe at things like lack of detail or failure to move the narrative forward.

The draft is on target, but something about just doesn’t feel right, and so I print it out, then delete what’s on the screen, and start over.

Crazy, I know. I do this all the time!

Thing is, however, for me, it seems to work. Yeah, I mean it.

The second attempt always moves me closer to what I envision the chapter to be, and I find even more inspiration when I try it again.

I can’t explain it, except in the past, I used to stress about it. I used to see it as a failure on my part because it would seem like I was taking one step up and then one step back before taking another step forward.

Call me a perferctionist all you want, but ultimately, I feel today that it’s kind of an asset. If in the end it makes the draft closer to completion, closer to my vision, closer to readability, then who’s to say this isn’t a good way to write a manuscript.

Do you ever do this? Does it frustrate you or do you embrace it as just the way you write?

Dave Pidgeon is a writer and photographer with nearly two decades of experience. He lives with his wife and their three sons in Lancaster, Pa.

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