It’s interesting to reflect on how drastically things have changed in the last few decades.
Back in my student days, and those that immediately followed, I used a completely different writing process. Then as now I usually created the idea on a walk. After I worked the idea out in my head I sat down and wrote a first draft in pencil. When finished I read through the draft and made corrections. Whole sections, paragraphs, sentences and blocks of words were marked out or moved. Other text was often written on another piece of paper with a numbering system to help me place it. I then wrote a second draft, which was often very different from the first. This was again written in pencil. Then I would go back and edit again. I very rarely did quite as much of the large scale moving blocks of text around, but then again, sometimes I did. For an important paper I might do one more pencil draft. Depending on where it was to go from there I would finish with a final draft in pen or on the typewriter.
So, back in the day it might take over 30,000 words written in pencil plus another 10,000 written in pen or typed to complete one 10,000 word story.
When I first transitioned over to a computer my editing skills went out the window. I would usually do a quick draft on the computer and then proofread it immediately. Anything I missed on a quick read through was missed forever. Often my final draft wasn’t even really a second draft but a revised version of the first. I would say 95% of my blog posts are still done this way. Most of the time what you read is a quickly edited first draft.
Later I got into the awful habit of rereading the story (or the last few pages once it got too long) each time I sat down to write and edited as I read. I still do this to some extent, but I try to avoid it. I agree that it is usually best to write the first draft out non-stop. To be truthful, I actually made major changes to this short post before I was halfway through.
Today when I have an idea for a story I still plan it all out in my head, but then I set it down on the computer. For 99% of my blog posts and 70% of my other writing, it will then stay on the computer. I read it on the computer and edit it in place. I don’t create a new file and rewrite, it all stays in the original file. For a very large project I may create backup copies along the way, but for a short story I will use only a single file.
I wrote four drafts for my book “The Fireborn”. Between each draft I printed out a copy and marked up the pages by hand. I sent copies of the later drafts to beta-readers and beta-editors and took some of their recommendations into advisement, particularly when they wanted something clarified. I also made quite a few revisions where I edited as I read through on the computer.
So if it is important, I combine all of the styles of editing, revision and drafting from my past to create the best story I can write.
What type of process do you use for editing and drafting?