Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Revision FAQ: How did you get so organized?

I've been getting a couple of the same questions over and over since I posted about revision (some from last year, and some since yesterday), and I thought--hey, I should do a couple of blog posts on that!

So, here's the first and most frequent FAQ:

How did you get so organized?

I have a theory: whether you're a pantser or a plotter, you've got to have at least one stage of your writing that is terribly organized.

Plotters make organized outlines (hence why they are plotters). They have lovely index cards with themes and characters and whatever, or they use Post-Its to plot the novel, or they just have a lengthy outline that they can use as a map for when they write. Whatever. They have something.

But I'm a perennial pantser. When I write, I've got nothing except whatever ideas are floating in my head. I'm the most unorganized first drafter ever. I throw together words all willy-nilly on the screen. I start one thread, get bored or forget about it, and start another thread. There's a whole subplot in my current rough draft that I just dropped about halfway through the book.

But since I'm so unorganized in drafting, I become ridiculously organized in revising. Writing is a two-step process: writing and revising. I think every writer needs organization in at least one of these steps--either you have an organized way of writing and then you have a fairly simpler revision process, or you have an unplanned writing style that must then be organized in revision.

What do you think? Is writing a two-step process that requires one step (at least) to be organized? If so, where are you organized--in writing or in revising?
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