In the previous post, we identified the first of two essential pre-editing steps: read your draft and just love it.
Jumping from loving your draft to critically analyzing it or starting to edit, reword, rework, cut, slash and burn would be a bit like ending a honeymoon with a stop at a divorce lawyer’s office.
Just thinking about having to analyze your draft or make massive edits can trigger subtle resistance if not outright block.
To avoid that resistance, I recommend a second pre-edit step that will ease you from not evaluating at all in your first read to reading a second time to develop your discernment of the draft. (more about discernment vs. judgment)
Listen for the Thrum
You do that by reading your draft and listening for the “thrum.”
“Like the string of a stringed instrument you vibrate inside [as you read], a harmonic is set up. So to edit your work, you go back and thrum to it. And you go thrum, thrum, thrum, twang! And when you go twang! as a reader, mark that passage. And you thrum on and twang on.” [italics are Butler’s]
The twangs are the rough spots, the places that aren’t quite in harmony with the rest of the draft. John Gardener would say twangs are where readers get pulled out the dream.
Don’t stop to think about how to fix anything. You don’t have to know why the writing thrums and why it twangs where it does. You don’t have to know how to fix it yet.
Just keep reading and listening. You mark the twangs because when you’re pulled from the dream, you have the awareness to pick up the pen. When the writing is thrumming along, you don’t think about marking the manuscript.
Revision and editing will require both the logical brain and the emotional brain, but before you let the conscious mind get too dominant, which it does so easily and quickly, listen one more time with your unconscious mind.
Butler advises us to imagine alternatives before we let the logical brain and the conscious mind take the lead.
“The primary and only necessary way to experiencing a work of literary art is not by ‘understanding’ it in analytical terms, it is by thrumming to the work of art… Then you go back to the twangs and instead of looking at the twangy spots and analyzing them in lit-crit ways, instead of consciously and willfully applying what you understand with your mind about craft and techniques, you redream those passages.”
When you start editing and revising, of course you’ll intentionally apply all the craft and technique you have. But first, just love what’s there.
Second, listen for the ineffable — what Butler calls the thrum, what logic cannot name but intuition recognizes immediately. Where the thrum is missing, let your less-than-conscious mind nudge you. Let the writer’s trance show you more possibilities. (more about writer’s trance)
When you’ve exhausted the possibilities of the writer’s trance, leave the draft alone. When you’re ready to start editing and revising, Mary Carroll Moore’s upcoming guest posts will give you direction.
If you’d like to explore and experiment with Butler’s “dreamstorming” method (which Susan Gaines Sevilla used to finish her novel), I’ll teach the Enter the Flow class at the Loft starting October 28.