Free-Flow Writing vs Edit as You Go

Marie here.

I have often heard “successful” authors giving advice to novices that makes me cringe. One of those that kind of drives me up the wall is “Never edit as you go.”

This is one of those things that falls into the whatever-works-for-you category. Some writers need to free-flow write. They need to sit down and get it all out of their head, whether it is in one sitting or twenty. These writers don’t worry about spelling, timelines, incorrect word usage, misnaming characters, etc. Getting it all down is step one in their book and by the gods, they will do it that way.

There’s nothing wrong with this.

Other writers edit as they go. They write a bit, go back some and re-read what they’ve written, then make some corrections before moving forward. They may only go so far as a previous chapter each time, they may go all the way back to the beginning and re-read each time, either way, they feel the need to have what is already written looking as nice as it can before they can continue.

There’s nothing wrong with this.

I have used both methods quite successfully. These days I tend to edit as I go more than free-flow. Again, this is one of those writing processes that varies with each person. Hell, for me it varies with each story. To conclude, my advice to writers is this: Do what works. If free-flow writing isn’t working for you because you can’t stop thinking about possible mistakes so far, try going back and editing. If you have been editing as you write but feel like you are losing interest in the story, try letting go and just going with the flow. See which process works best for you and go with it, other writers be damned.

2 thoughts on “Free-Flow Writing vs Edit as You Go

  1. Nice post. While editing or just rereading, I sometimes discover a new direction for the story. For me, the editing-as-I-go process is critical to finding those magic moments when I am inspired to take a different route. But there are times when it is best to leave the critique for another time and just write!


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