Be Passionate Enough to Set in Stone, but Fluid Enough to Destroy


As a writer, everything is heightened. Books don't take just a day to write. Characters don't come fully formed in minutes. Inherently you're sacrificing a large percentage of time and effort to writing - months, years even, on a single work. Most people can't imagine spending that much time on anything. Maybe on childrearing, but that's it.

With that much time commitment comes the tricky issue of devotion. I used to be a "My first draft is perfect" writer; whatever I set down on the page was meant to be set down. Then I began learning the art of revision (I think there's that quote that "all books are written in revision"), mostly through the many workshops I've been in as a writer. For the novel I'm currently working on I'm doing something I would coin as "circle revision," which basically means that I'm circling back through what I've written and revising as I'm moving forward and writing new material. Basically I'm building the plan as I'm flying the plane, so that my "first draft" will be somewhat of a heavily edited revised draft.

Which brings me to the question of commitment: What are you willing to chop? There's the old adage to "kill your darlings," or get rid of content that you hold dear to - maybe an interesting conversation or plot point or even a character - that just isn't working. Sometimes there's content you need to be passionate about. I would say, if you're going to be a writer, there's content you absolutely have to be passionate about and defend. But you also have to be fluid enough to know when it's not working. I wrote a chapter a few weeks ago that I loved writing. It was a chapter that had one character revealed a secret to another, and then narrating a huge backstory. I loved the idea of having it be told mainly through a character's narrative. I still enjoyed it a few days out but then I began to realize that it wasn't working. And I realized that I could sacrifice all that time and work to tear down the chapter and rebuild it. So I did. Was there content I brought over from the first draft of the chapter? Absolutely. Because that content I was passionate about, and wanted to keep in. But I was fluid with the narrative structure.

Are you being passionate and fluid in your writing? Leave some examples below.