I’ve said before that writing a book isn’t difficult when you break it down into 1,000 words a day. In fact, if you write 1,000 words a day fairly consistently, you can write more than one book a year.
A few smart readers have pointed out that the writing is the easiest part. Truly crafting something worthwhile requires much more work in the editing or revision phase. It’s one thing to get 50,000 words on the page, and it’s another to turn them into something that other people want to read.
I still maintain that it’s more important for most of us to focus on forward motion, on making choices that allow for consistent, daily effort. Most people remain stuck at the beginning, unable to envision a reality of themselves actually writing a book or creating another big project.
Nevertheless, the comments that revision is more difficult and more important are true. First you create, then you revise. The essence of the process is revision.
49,000 Words and Miles to Go
I’ve been working on my new book for much of the past several months. The other day I was surprised to see that my draft is now more than 49,000 words. The target is approximately 70,000 words in the final manuscript. All’s well, right?
Well, I’m on track, but I have far to go. This first draft is really just a first draft. I expect to rewrite much of the entire manuscript at least once over the next two months, and then I expect to revise much of that version over the following month. Much work remains and many miles to go.
Meanwhile, we’ve been working with our beta members in the new Adventure Capital project. This course launched in beta (finally!) a month ago, and we’ve been gearing up for a bigger relaunch to the public over the past few weeks.
I had originally thought it could be ready as early as a week ago, but we still have a few more tweaks to make before going live. Our new target date for a public launch is Wednesday, May 29.
Both of these big projects have reminded me of an essential truth: revising is harder, but ultimately more worthwhile, than the initial act of making something.
From a recent New Yorker essay by John McPhee:
The way to do a piece of writing is three or four times over, never once. For me, the hardest part comes first, getting something—anything—out in front of me… Then, as you work it over and alter it, you begin to shape sentences that score higher with the ear and eye. Edit it again—top to bottom. The chances are that about now you’ll be seeing something that you are sort of eager for others to see. And all of that takes time.
All of that takes time, so that’s what I’ll be doing, day in and day out for the next six weeks.
How about you? Are you creating or revising? How do you do it?
Feel free to share in the comments.