Creative Slogging: Cleaning Up After Myself

The joy of blogging is that I usually get to write about what I’m excited about. This week, I’m not. Excited. About. Writing.

I’m currently slogging through edits of the new book, which makes it sound like the writing is done. It’s not, but the only way to see what’s still missing is to clean up what is already there. Kind of like doing all the dishes so you can wipe down the counters.

I have to say this is not the fun part.

mooring sunset woods hole

If I were more of an outliner and less of a complete seat of the pants writer, maybe this stage wouldn’t be quite so necessary or time-consuming. But I’ve tried outlining, and it doesn’t work for me. For whatever reason, my characters never seem inclined to follow a strict planned-out path.

So I’m cleaning up after myself. Unnecessary words, phrases, and even whole chapters go into the “history” folder. (I’m not quite ready yet to put them in the trash.) It would be much easier to edit if this were someone else’s work, because the rabbit holes would be so much more obvious. Instead I get sucked down a few here and there, because I’m just as interested today in what my characters think about a particular topic as I was when I first wrote it out… even if it’s totally irrelevant to the story I’m trying to tell.

I’ve been through this before with previous books, so I understand this is a crucial part of my creative process. But previous books have not included so many different characters, and it simply takes longer to get to know a larger group of people. So there are more wasted words to toss out now.

I believe in this story and what will come out of slogging through this part. And my writing joy will return… so please stay tuned.

6 thoughts on “Creative Slogging: Cleaning Up After Myself”

  1. Karen Disch says:

    Carol –
    Usually the more creative I am in the kitchen, the more dishes need to be done. Clean counters are a reward for a job well done, or well eaten. Can’t wait to see your new work. I’ve enjoyed your past writings and look forward to what’s next.

    Good luck!

    1. CAROL CRONIN says:

      Karen, that is a great analogy. I do a better job of cleaning up as I cook than as I write, though.

  2. Kim cronin says:

    Karen is right about the kitchen issues although I am a clean as I go cook more then a leave it cook so does that mean I would make outlines more? I do not know. Whatever you are doing it sounds very entertaining when YOU write about it!! Haha

    1. CAROL CRONIN says:

      Using less dishes in the first place would be like making an outline…

  3. Bridget Chicoine says:

    I’ve been spending some time in the “rabbit hole” lately. It is difficult to see the fluff in our own stories. Cutting is important, but you are wise to keep the cuts in a holding folder–you never know if you might need bits of it to fill in gaps later on.

    1. Carol Newman Cronin says:

      Usually I never return to the holding folder, but it’s comforting to know I’m not losing the cuts forever…

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