Waiting for the click

I was thinking some more about the whole business of how many drafts writers write, and found myself thinking about the fact that how many drafts I write depends on when the “click” happens.

There’s a point for me in the writing process when things go click–when the pieces fall into place, when tension starts singing along the wires, when finally I can tell that yes, I’ve found the story I was trying to tell, that there’s a point to all my scribbling after all. I’m not sure I’m describing this well, because it’s a hard thing to describe. And I’m not sure it’s one discrete event, really–sometimes it’s a series of clicks and whirs until I go–yes, that, there.

But before the click happens, it’s silly to talk about how many drafts are appropriate, because the story simply is not there yet, and the thing on paper is not a thing worth prettying up and sending out into the world. It’s not there yet.

After the click, though–I might still need a bunch of work, to turn the story into the one I now understand I’m trying to write. But after the click, I can be on the lookout for that point when I’ve revised as much as I can; when anything more will be over-polishing and won’t improve the story. Somewhere after the click, there will be a point where any more rewriting would be too much rewriting.

So what I wonder is, for writers whose process involves fewer drafts than mine: is that because by your process, you don’t set any words to paper until the click happens? Is that click maybe the thing that tells you to start writing in the first place, instead of the thing that tells you you’ve reached a certain stage in your writing?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *