I am currently balancing working with four editors on a single project (Kingdom Keepers, Book VII The Insider) because we have over 20,000 writers contributing text to the book though a free app (Kingdom Keepers Insider) and the structure of real time on-line publishing along with print publication (coming in April) requires many eyes on the same work.
Working with Dave Barry when co-writing Peter and the Starcatchers and other books, I learned the “get it right the first time” school of writing. Dave likes to weld a draft and move on. I came into our partnership from the multiple rewrite approach—post first draft—and had to learn to do all the rewrites up front in order for our styles to work together. It turned out to be great training ground.
Dave and I aren’t writing together at present, but with the Insider project up and rolling, I’m faced with editorial comments from three editors, and copyedits from a fourth, all the same week I write a chapter. What’s interesting to me about the change in process is that I am typically a spew-it-out-and-fix-it-later writer. I like to get on a roll and write new pages each and every day. I can’t do that in the Insider project—and I couldn’t do that while working with Dave—so I’ve had to learn to adjust to a slower, more determined way of writing in which you lock the draft and never look back. In my case that’s because we publish the chapter for the world to see on-line, and it’s out there for good.
This method has bled into my suspense writing as well. Where I used to crank out 2-3,000 words a day, I now typically get out about half that. But I find I’m less likely to rewrite those fewer words as many times I would have the larger figure. Now, instead of four to six drafts per suspense novel, it’s more like two and couple of polishes.
I share this only because it recently occurred to me how much my methods have changed now 30 years into my career and how that showed me that the writing process is evolutionary. I never pay much attention to “process” or the other catch phrases tossed about at writers’ conferences, but getting hammered by four critics each week for over six months now has both hardened my skin and made me aware “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” In fact, I’m in Missouri, but that’s for another blog posting.