Friday, November 7, 2014

Writing Life Lessons—Is The Way You Write, Right?

by Bruce Brady @BDBrady007

I struggle with editing while writing my first draft. I can’t help it. When I see that something could be done better, I stop and work on it until I’m satisfied or exasperated. This prevents me from producing more than about 500 words an hour—and often less.

In an effort to overcome this, I entered NaNoWriMo this year. I hoped the pressure of writing 50,000 words in 30 days would motivate me to ignore all those editing opportunities. And just to make it more interesting, I have the added pressure of a schedule that will allow only 15 to 20 writing days.

Today is November fifth and I’ve only written about 500 words. To be fair to myself, I didn’t get started until the third and I’ve had a couple of urgent life issues to deal with. Still, I’ve had two and half days to produce and only managed to pound out 500 words.

I realize that five days isn’t enough history on which to base a judgment. But it has already taught me some very important lessons. I’ve learned that going against my natural tendency increases my stress level. Couple this with a personal issue that demands I reduce stress as much as possible, and I’m tempted to quit. But that’s not an option.

I may not reach the 50,000 word goal. And I may not overcome my need to edit as I write. But I know continuing will teach me even more—and that will be worth the effort. In fact, I’ve also learned that setting a word-count goal may not be the best approach for everyone.

A more important lesson is the realization that I have a particular writing technique. And I may not want to change it. My writing history has proved that I do my best work when I’m relaxed. And I’m now learning that I’m most relaxed when editing as I go. While I’d like to complete a novel in a month, that may not be most advantageous for me. The time needed to do several rewrites may prove to be less efficient overall.

Ultimately we want to present our best work to our readers. We write in different ways, and each method presents its own challenges and stress. So I guess the question is: would changing our style make us better writers? I guess I’m about 25 days away from knowing.

I need your help. What’s your writing technique? Do you think changing your it would make you a better or more efficient writer? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


Bruce Brady is an author, writer and playwright. His work has appeared in Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family,, and on stage. Currently, Bruce is working on a Young Adult Novel about a boy who must deal with the death of his dad, being bullied, and helping his mom through her grief. His first five pages took third place in the ACFW South Carolina Chapter’s “First Five Pages” contest.

When he’s not writing, Bruce spends time learning from and helping other writers. He serves as Mentor of Word Weavers International’s Online Chapter, and as a member of Cross ‘N’ Pens, The Writer’s Plot, ACFW’s National and South Carolina Chapters.

“My dream is to entertain my readers and give them hope as they travel the rocky road of life.”


  1. I also tend to edit as I go. But I don't stay in one place too long agonizing over it. I know it will probably be changed anyway when the "real" editing begins. But I do find it nearly impossible to ignore necessary changes as I'm writing.

  2. Bruce, I successfully participated in NanoWriMo twice. I also edit. The trick is to restrict your editing by self-imposed guidelines. Mine was to only edit what I wrote yesterday before writing at least a new chapter/scene today. The editing session actually got me back into the story, so the next pages just flowed.

  3. That's exactly why I don't enter the NaNoWriMo. I get back into my story by editing yesterday
    s work. Good post, Bruce!

    1. I'm the same, Anne and Bruce. A friend and I decided it's like making your character pause and put on a bathrobe before leaving the privacy of his home. His enthusiasm to get to Walmart is dampened, but... something is gained, as well. I think there is a tendency to think one style is better than another. The reality is if a really cool edit idea comes to you, you can ignore it in favor of plot flow, or go with your natural flow. Either way you choose, something is lost and something good is gained. So why not go with the method that feels right to you? I wonder if it's best to make notes, whichever direction we choose.

  4. I do my best writing without editing. I just try to get the skeleton on paper, then flesh it out afterward. :)

  5. Bruce, I'm like you. I edit as I go, which makes me a very slow writer. But I am most relaxed in that setting. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I'm so glad to see this, Bruce. My style is like yours -- I just gotta edit as I go. But I use a timer to give me 45 minutes to get as much done as I can. That really helps me stay focused. I reset the timer again, maybe now or maybe later. I try not to stress over it. Word count goals are just not for me.

  7. I also edit as I go. It takes me about 1 1/2 hours to write 1,000 words. Since I'm a SOTP writer, I have to go back and check my work for plot holes and inconsistencies. This works for me, so why mess with success?

    I steer clear of Nano and other pressure-cooker writing challenges.