Susan Gaines Sevilla recently finished the first draft of her novel!
After I woo-hooed and congratulated her in our coaching call, she said, “I guess I should read it with a highlighter in hand to mark where it needs work, but not stop to edit it in the moment.”
“Certainly don’t edit in the moment,” I agreed. “It’s too soon for that. It may even be too soon to read with a highlighter. What if you just read it and love it?”
Susan will move forward with her novel, I have no doubt. But countless first drafts of novels, short stories, poems, screenplays, essays, blog posts, etc. gather dust in desk drawers and under beds because their authors couldn’t bring themselves to start the revision. Editing and revising are scary!
If you have a piece of writing languishing, if you’re resisting moving forward with editing and revising, or if you, like Susan, have completed a draft and want to avoid resistance, I recommend you do what Susan is doing right now – read your draft with no evaluation at all.
No judging good or bad. No discerning what’s working and what’s not. Just love it.
Love what you wrote. Love that you finished it. Love how you gave your experiences to a character or how you made your personal truth universal. Love your characters. Love your metaphors, images, word choices. Love how you are occasionally surprised by your own writing.
Find something to love on every page of a long work, every paragraph or two of a shorter works, every line or stanza of a poem.
You may slip into evaluating your writing as you read in the same way you can slip into thinking everyday thoughts when you’re meditating. It’s natural, so don’t feel badly about it. Just notice what you’re doing and go back to loving your writing and/or breathing.
Social science research tells us that we get more of what we pay attention to. So if you pay attention to what you love, you’ll get more to love.
Isn’t that why you started writing in the first place – because you love to write? Or because you’re passionate about your topic and writing is a great way to share that passion with others?
Love isn’t pretending who or what you love is perfect. Love is accepting, appreciating and embracing what is. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is one of the most powerful antidotes to fear and resistance I know.
Don’t worry about being overly self-congratulatory or complacent. There will be time for evaluating your writing later. Editing and revising have several steps (which guest blogger Mary Carroll Moore will explore in upcoming posts).
Before you start editing, take time for two essential pre-edit steps:
- Step 1: Love your draft
- Step 2: Will be revealed in our next post.