*Nonfiction* and *Fiction*

What do you do when you realize halfway through writing a book that you want to add in a new subplot or theme? To set up the new material properly, you’ll need to go back through the chapters you’ve already written and insert scenes, lines, or explanations. Should you do that now, putting the current section of the book on hold until you get the preexisting material right?


If you try to go back through and change your whole book every time you come up with an addition or deletion, you will take forever to finish writing it. As we’ve discussed before, your writing brain and editing brain don’t play nicely together, and trying to jump back and forth between them will kill your productivity.

Instead of going back to edit each change you want to make to the book as a whole, try this:

1. Continue writing the new material as if you’ve made all the changes you need in earlier chapters. Pretend you did the necessary editing, and that the new themes or subplots you want to include now have been properly laced through the earlier chapters.

2. Start a list of “things to add.” Keep this with the rest of your notes for your book. Add to it whenever you come up with a theme, scene, or line of reasoning you want to add to something you’ve already written. Do the same for “things to delete” and “things to change.”

3. After you’ve finished your first draft in October, then you can go back and use your list of notes to revise the rest of the book. This will allow you to take care of all of the changes at once, in a single in-depth edit, rather than trying to re-edit the same material with each new change.

The basic idea here is that your writing brain will feel happier if you produce a complete, if messy book than it will if you produce three or four perfect chapters. Finishing new material excites you and pumps you up to keep making progress. Revising the same material over and over will make you hate your book and eventually destroy your motivation to keep writing.

So this week and in the future, feel free to make changes on the fly. Add stuff in. Take stuff out. Revise your outline from January. Pretend you’ve been writing that way the entire time. Keep a list of changes you need to make later to turn your pretending into reality. You won’t lose anything that way, and you’ll be able to keep your creative juices flowing.

You’re doing great, Author. Keep it up!

*This Week’s Word Count*
Nonfiction: 15,750
Your book is as long as: “The Custom-House” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Fiction: 25,000
Your book is as long as: The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary


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