Write, Don't Think: Lessons From Finding Forrester

As I've been getting back to the third draft of my book, the thing that most surprises me is the need to, even at this point, add scenes. When I wrote short fiction, revision was really revision, and editing was "just" editing. But this novel animal is so very different. In developing the subplots, I am going back to the beginning again, at least with these particular characters. So it strikes me that while I'm working on the third draft of my novel, I'm really working on the first draft of these particular scenes. And as such, I can't expect myself to get those right the first time. I have to give myself the permission to fail on the page, or else I will never move forward. It reminds me of this scene in Finding Forrester (2000):

You write your first draft with your heart, and you rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is to write, not to think.

--Finding Forrester
For those of us struggling with drafting and redrafting and revision, this is good advice to heed.


I end up writing a lot of scenes for reasons I couldn't possibly articulate at the time. I get this inkling that I should, and even though I suspect the scene has no reason for being in the book and will end up in my outtakes file, I go ahead and write it as it unfolds in my head. Nine out of ten times those unplanned mystery scenes end up playing a critical role in the book.

The other ten percent wind up in the outtakes file, where they can't hurt anybody. :) But often enough, they were stepping stones to whatever I really needed to be writing.

Best of luck on the new scenes. And if you haven't yet read Ann Lamott's Bird by Bird, you need to check it out. I love what she has to say about the process.