I had an interesting discussion on Twitter yesterday (yes, it's possible, doubters!) about which part of book-writing is the best. I was extolling the happiness of first-drafting, and was surprised that every single one of the authors I was talking to strongly preferred revising to the blank page.
Which made me think...WHY? (why do different people like different bits, and why am I loving the first draft?)
If there's one thing I've learned over the past few years, it's that not only are no two writers alike...no two BOOKS are alike. The process always twists to the needs of the book. For example, the last book was the first time I'd ever written with a playlist, and used the music as part of my creative process. So I know better than to generalize, even for myself.
But for the last book I wrote and the one I'm writing now, I definitely, definitively love the first draft part of writing. Perhaps unreasonably. For these books, it's like I truly am telling the story to myself, so every day a little piece of the puzzle is revealed. Plot points shift, I'm aware of pacing and larger themes, and I have a whole notebook of where-this-needs-to-go and don't-forget-this and these-are-the-threads-you're-balancing-now (currently, 11 threads! Ha!). But day to day, it's all about the story for me. As my friend Linda Grimes has said, it's like an interactive movie.
Also, in the first draft everything still seems POSSIBLE. Not only for the character, but for the book. It can still be genius, with amazing twists and turns. I'm still at the start of the process, so this is all still just me and the page--I know I will have many chances to go over it and get it right, so now I can play and explore and have fun.
I enjoy doing revision too (I am an editor, after all, in my daily life), and later passes where I can strengthen and layer and add better twists and plot developments and setting, and make everything work. But somehow with every draft it seems like my opportunities narrow, a little. I'm working with already existing words and story, and flexing it (or taking it apart and rearranging it) to make it the best I can, but it's not all blank possibility.
But I'm sure I'm forgetting things here, just looking at my own experience with these last two books particularly. I'd really like to hear from you. What is the best part of the process for you? Why?
Please answer in the comments! If we get enough discussion maybe I can do a follow up from the reviser's perspective.