This always happens to me when I’m immersed in the writing process. The intent is always the same, to create the best draft. But I never know how many changes it’s going to take for me to say, This is the final version, and to actually mean that.
I’m working on a batch of poems I wrote years ago with the intent to finalize them. I concluded that it was necessary that years pass before I picked up those poems again and write their final versions. I was more confident in the revision/editing process this time around. I noticed I revised and edited quicker and better trusted my intuition when making those revision and editing choices. I was able to see what lines needed to be taken out. I say taken out because I didn’t delete them. I just piled them on another page in case they’re useful in the future.
I was better able to hear and see each poem’s foundation and heart. I felt more confident in bringing forth their individual meaning and beauty. Whereas before, I questioned my revision/editing choices a lot. I felt more comfortable with changing the title of a poem or leaving it untitled if I felt like it didn’t have the right title. I was able to take out many chunks of lines and words that weren’t needed with more confidence. I’d never done this with my poems before. I sometimes wondered if I was wrong for not finding ways to keep some lines when the lines decreased dramatically. Yet, after I removed the lines, I realized that I was still keeping the poem’s message.
Then I applied more writing strategies that have stuck with me over time. If I noticed that some consecutive lines didn’t have an image, I tried to figure out what image I could use to express an experience. For example, what image could I use to describe a sleepless night? I asked myself what’s the right word for what I’m trying to say here? Do I use selfless or virtuous? Do I use old or past? Do I use dull or mundane? I asked myself: how many adjectives are enough, do I use a or the, do I capitalize this letter or not, where can I add sound in this poem, and can I come up with an original way of saying things that have already been written about?
Sometimes I think that I won’t be able to find the right words to say what I want to say. I think that I’m not the writer who can write something extraordinary. Sometimes after waiting a bit and experimenting with the words, I end up surprising myself with what I write. I say this as evidence that every writer has access to infinite possibilities of word arrangements.
What are your go-to revision and editing strategies? How has your writing process changed over the years? How do you know that you’ve completed the final draft? Leave me a comment. I’d love to talk to you about the writing process!
With mucho cariño,