When I write my first draft, it’s like I’m creating a line drawing. I’m building the foundation for my story. I write all the pertinent plot details, dialogue interactions, perhaps a few details here and there. When I’m done, I have a barebones story. Then, when I go back and edit, I start coloring in the lines, adding the details that help bring the story to life. My stories always grow when I go back and edit.
I come from a technical writing background, where I learned to avoid any superfluous description (just the facts, ma’am!), which is why my first drafts are as barebones as they are. It also explains why pacing in my first drafts has always been a problem. I speed through many scenes, just giving the barest of detail before moving on. Thankfully, once I start editing and filling in the missing details, it slows down the pacing. I occasionally find that I need to add a few additional scenes as well.
I know a lot of writers who complain about the editing process. However, just like coloring in line drawings can be very soothing and cathartic, for me going back and editing is also cathartic. Another analogy that comes to mind is taking a lump of clay and shaping it, constantly molding it. Adding and removing clay as I go until it becomes a beautiful work of art.
There are many different ways to approach your writing, but if you find yourself constantly getting stuck with your current process, you may wish to consider alternatives. My process works for me, but it wouldn’t work for everyone. Some writers need to be able to fill in as many details as they go, often needing to remove some when they edit. Others edit as they go, writing a page and immediately editing it before moving on. As long as you produce a well-written story, it doesn’t matter how you get there. Just make sure you find the right method for you.