This post by Chuck Wendig originally appeared on his terribleminds site on 10/8/14. Note that it contains strong language.
Writing is when we make the words.
Editing is when we make the words not shitty.
The poor sad widdle second draft.
I’m in the midst of one of these right now, and while you see a lot of attention given to the first draft and to the overall editing process, you don’t see quite so much attention given to the second draft specifically. But there should be! The second draft is a peculiar animal. Interstitial. Imperfect. It’s frequently the growing pains draft, where two limbs grow and two limbs shrink and by the end of its hormonal transformation it’s the same creature as before but also, entirely different. The second draft is the teenager of manuscripts. Awkward, pimply, full of faux confidence and bravado, and something-something pubic hair.
Okay, maybe not that last part?
Anyway. Let’s talk a little bit about the second draft.
Psst! You Didn’t Write The First Draft
Yeah, no, I know you actually did write the first draft, but shh, shhh, we’re trying to be tricksy hobbitses here. By the time you get to the second draft, your best way forward is to somehow convince yourself that Some Other Asshole wrote this book. Because you can be cold, clinical, dispassionate when you’re attacking the draft if you think it’s not yours. It’s like having children — you can look at other people’s kids and be all like LOOK AT THOSE SAVAGES HANGING FROM THE CEILING FANS, but then you see your own kid drinking out of the toilet like a dog and you’re like, awww, he’s pretending to be a puppy — he’s gifted.
You’ve gotta treat this book like it’s some rando’s kid. Baby Rando.
Rando II: First Blood.