Writing Without Editing

Last year, December 30th to be precise, I had the idea to write and self-publish a book about Dropbox and digital photography. It would sum up and explain in detail everything I’ve learned about capturing, organizing, sharing, and protecting my photo library – centered around Dropbox. I went home that night and immediately dumped everything out of my mind into an OmniOutliner document.

Eighteen hours later, my son was born.

So, the book stalled for a while.

But a few months later, once the insanity of having a baby settled into something resembling a routine, I turned that outline of ideas into a real outline of chapters and sections. Sometime in April I began the real task of writing. I even went ahead and booked a few website sponsorships for later that Summer thinking I’d have the book finished by then.

Boy was I wrong.

It’s now nearly a year since I first had the idea for the book, and I’ve written around 15,000 words. I’m guessing I’ve got another 10,000-15,000 to go. So I’m half-way there.

What I find myself struggling with isn’t finding the time to write or coming up with ideas of what to write about. I have time blocked out every evening and I’m working through my outline. My problem is that I’m a perfectionist when I write. Going back to my days in college as an English major, I wrote all of my papers start to finish with little to no editing. I’d sometimes spend thirty minutes on two sentences making sure my point was as clear and concise as possible before moving forward. The result? I’d spend the same amount of time writing papers as my friends, I just never went through the second and third drafts that they did. When I was finished, I was finished.

But with a project as a large as this book, writing that methodically is too slow and causes me to lose my place within the larger context of what I’m writing. So, I’m trying to force myself to write without editing. Get my thoughts out of my head and into Scrivener, knowing I’ll have time to do real editing and proof reading when I’m done.

That’s a struggle for me. It goes against the very nature of how I’ve always written. And I’m not sure how to get better at it other than plodding along a little bit every day.

If any other writers out there have dealt with this problem, I’d love your advice.


1 reply on “Writing Without Editing”

The key idea is that “to edit a shitty first draft is better than no draft at all”. As a writer yourself, you must know how easy and good it feels to revise than to create. Your title, writing without editing, is actually a good advice many successful writers will give. Furthermore, it seems to me that subconsciously you used perfectionism as an excuse to procrastinate, which is totally common for a lot of people. You could google “procrastinate, perfection”. I suggest you to read the book “Bird by Bird”, a famous book on the idea of writing without editing. Moreover, you could also google the following articles: “The power of the shitty first draft”, “On Embracing a bad first draft”, “The myth of the crappy first draft”, “Are you overthinking your first draft?”, “5 foolproof ways to get through a tough task”. Good luck~