“You can’t edit a blank page.” If you’re a writer, it is very possible that someone has tossed this phrase your way. It may seem particularly unhelpful when you’re stuck in a paragraph, chapter….
Or a rut.
But it’s true, nevertheless. This is why we have FIRST drafts. (Even if the first draft is of the third take-apart-and-make-it-over version of a story originally crafted a quarter-century ago. Yeah.) Write that story. Fight through it, even if ==reverent chord*==the perfect words aren’t coming from a character’s mouth or you can’t quite catch the mood of the scene or whatever.
Write it down anyway. Because you can’t edit a blank page.
I’m sitting here with a binder filled with my draft and notes taken during Roundtable critiques. I have more comprehensive notes from others in our critique group in a file on my laptop. Back in the days when I met with them in person, twenty years ago, those notes were on paper and in a file in my desk, but I still treat them the same way.
I read, evaluate comments, and make changes as seems best to me.
The rewrite/edit/second pass is not always easy, but it IS my favorite part. I have already cut a chunk from the prologue (and put it in a doc where all such excisions have gone just in case I want them back at some point) and added a scene in the final chapter. I can do this because I have a much better sense of where the journey ended.
Because if you know the ending, Writer who may be reading this, you might find delight in sharpening your beginning to make the ending just that much better.
You can’t edit a blank page. You can, though, polish a written one.
Make it bright! Make it smart! Make it shine for your reader!
Most of all, enjoy the process. It’s fulfilling, truly. Most especially when the pages are no longer blank.
*including the ==reverent chord==because a longtime online connection of mine uses this term often in her posts and it always makes me smile. Thanks, L!