As revision begins in earnest, as evidenced by the half-hour or so I spent today re-revising the chapter I revised last night before exhausting myself and pretending that I’d decided to instead focus on getting things done rather than getting them perfect, I am starting to feel that sense of frustration that occurs whenever I’ve just written something, read back over it and seen that it doesn’t match the clear-minded certainty in my imagination. It’s one thing to not have a clear idea of what you’re doing; it’s quite another to have a perfectly clear idea of what you’re doing and then experience first-hand your own inability to actually do it.
Something happens when the actual writing begins: my mind’s-eye vision shortens and intensifies dramatically, and whatever plan I had in mind can no longer be seen, only the parts of it that I’m currently putting into action. Because of that, I end up losing the overall plan altogether, instead building up a new plan that is made-up as I go along, and once the writing is done and I look back over it it is clear that I have completely deviated from my intended course and just done whatever, gone from reciting my well-rehearsed script to delirious improvisation.
So what’s the point, then, in even making a plan to begin with? If all I end up doing is deviating anyway, why even bother?
Well, for starters: if I didn’t have a plan of some kind, even a broad-strokes big-picture kinda plan, then I would have no starting-point, and without a starting point I can’t very well write anything.
Second of all: however much I might deviate in the process of writing, it does not prevent me from going back later on and nudging things back into place so that they line up in the way I originally intended.
And third: the plan sometimes does go according to … plan … and even if it doesn’t, I might end up improvising something that’s better.
The short-sightedness that comes from being “in the zone” when I’m writing is certainly frustrating, but it’s also healthy. After all, if I wasn’t paying attention to what I was writing as I wrote it, I might end up writing song lyrics or snippets of imagined conversation instead. The value of focusing on the writing as it is rather than what it’s supposed to be is also what allows those moments of brilliance that deviate from but are better than the plan to happen – when you’re focused on what you’re doing, even to the exclusion of all else, then you can feel its dynamic as it unfolds and react accordingly. True, it’s a distorted, fish-eye lens kind of dynamic you’re feeling, but it’s still, I think, important to go through, however infuriating it can be.
Can you tell I’m procrastinating?
So much for last night’s euphoric soul-searching …