Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Speed vs. Accuracy?

The article I read was helpful in giving students like ourselves tips about how to be creative in classrooms where we aren't really given a chance. I think we all remember our high school days where an essay consisted of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. There was a specific way of doing things and they had to be done that way, otherwise our grades would suffer. This article really advocates for the use of the creative process and I liked that.
However, the part I want to ask you guys about is the writing itself. Do you write continuously without even stopping to correct your grammar, or do you stop at what you would consider a chapter, or even a paragraph, and correct all your misspellings and such?
I think I am the kind of person that, no matter what I am writing, I go back immediately and look for corrections to be made. I go back about every paragraph or so, sometimes less, and do some editing. I think it just frustrates me to see a word underlined in red so I have the urge of going back and correcting it as soon as possible.
Are any of you guys the kind of writers that like to write and write then go back and correct your mistakes and syntax? Beverly Cleary, a children’s book author, says that she just writes and writes and doesn't go back to re-read what she wrote until a couple of days later which is when she does all the corrections. She says that she waits until the rough draft of the entire novel is done that she goes back and begins the work of rewriting. I could not possibly imagine myself doing that. I would be too temped to go back and reread what I wrote within a couple of hours.
Anyway, do you think it matters how an author likes to do it? Would we even be able to tell by reading their book which way they did it? I don't think so. Ultimately in writing it comes down to whatever makes the writer happy.


  1. I don't think it would matter as long as the author does edit. I do usually read what I write as soon as I have finished it (if it's a long piece, then as soon as I've finished a section), and I correct it. Then I also put it aside and wait awhile before I look at it again and correct it. I tend to miss mistakes immediately after writing something, so it's only when I look at it after it's 'cooled off' that I notice mistakes. With essays the waiting period is usually just a day or two because of deadlines, but with my personal writing it can be much longer, sometimes months. I always feel like I am a better judge of my work if I don't edit it immediately. I feel like I am a better judge of how good it is if I look at it later.

    I think stopping periodically to check work is just as good as editing after it is completely finished. It really depends on the preferences of the writer, I would say. If it's a long work, it's probably better to check it before it's finished, just so that you don't keep making the same mistakes. At least, that's what I would assume.

    Editing really is a skill that takes practice. As long as authors do their best to thoroughly comb through their works, then I don't care how they edit. I would be interested in hearing what everyone else thinks about which style of editing is more effective.

  2. I know exactly what you mean, Karla! To cut to the chase, I'm the kind of writer that has to go back every one or two sentences and re-read them to be sure that not only the grammar is correct, but they are phrased the way I'd like them. For me, going through and editing is my second highest priority, besides writing the actual work!

    Personally, I can't leave what I've written behind for even a couple of hours (maybe a case of OCD??), and I will read it 2 or 3 times after it's done. To me, a good author is one who has gone through their work 10 to 20 times and always found phrases to be re-written and words to be corrected. I also think that when a work of literature is incredibly smooth and well-written, it is because it was primarily EDITED. I can't stand to see errors in books that are mass printed! And while authors' writing styles differ, if one practices a lot, anyone can become the best author they can be.

  3. More and more over the years I've come to resent my style of writing, which is to be slow and very critical of every word I put down. I visit the thesaurus every few words to make sure my choices are the ones that create the best "flow," but the act of turning on my editor's eyes is extremely disruptive to any rhythm I hope to have. And my editor's eyes are always on! This has frequently led to short stories written for classes that are solid in the first few pages, but degenerate in quality approaching the end as the due date looms.

    For me, editing as I write is a curse. Beverly Cleary's method as you described it, Karla, is my ideal, and I'm going to force myself to follow it. The act of writing, though, works differently for everyone. Some people can write in busy coffee shops, and some need absolute silence; I don't see why the method should matter if the result is good. It's a fortunate author who discovers the circumstances and methods they need to produce their best work.

    It would be interesting to study works we know were written in a certain fashion and look for similarities and differences, but it's hard to imagine what they'd be. I don't think I could tell.

  4. I think that as a writer how often I go back to check my mistakes depends on how inspired I am feeling at that moment. At certain occasions I have so many ideas up in my head that I can't seem to get them down fast enough so I will type for hours on end hardly going back to check. But if I am at a standstill or having a bad case of writers block I tend to go back and check errors and illogical sentences. I do most of my editing when I have writers block.

    Sometimes my best work is when I let the keys flow beneath my fingers and I don't think much about what exactly I am putting down just knowing that it comes directly from the original ideal i had set in my mind. I hardly read my work as I write and if I have a spurt of inspiration I may write up to five or six pages and not go back to look at it until a few days later. In that case I am a lot like Beverly Cleary in the sense that I do go back to check before I have finished the entire story, essay, or novel. I find that if I have something that is very large to edit I lose my concentration and I often do a bad job of editing my own work.

    But just as many of you have said a writer's method isn't the most important thing but rather it is the outcome of their work that says it all. Quality writing is quality writing no matter how the writer got there. For the author it is the journey of writing a story that is typically the most important, but as a reader, the destination is all we see and adore.

  5. When I write I usually have to go back and fix every little green or red squiggly line that I see. When I finish a thought or sentence I go back and fix the error. I usually don't go back and edit my stuff until after I finish the work And sometimes when I have writers block I go back and edit my sentences.

    Sometimes I can write forever though, and not feel the need to go back. I feel that if I give myself some time away from my work; I can go back with a clear head and edit my work better. I don't like to my work when I free write. I don't like looking at how bad my sentence structure is. That is why I kind of like more formal writing for essays, because I have structure and needs to be written in certain manner and way.


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