It’s a mantra. Say it over and over again: Good books aren’t written, they’re edited. Good books aren’t written, they’re edited. Good books aren’t written, they’re (all together now) edited.
Confession: this post is mostly for myself. I’m in the middle of writing a first draft and all I can think is: “Hm. This isn’t as good as I’d like.” I’m not saying it’s terrible—I like the story or I wouldn’t be writing it down. But my writing feels forced. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. The first step towards resolution is admitting you have a problem. As to what to do about it…
That can’t be forced, either. Answers tend to come when you’re relaxed and imaginative. And since I’m in the middle of the first draft, I can’t focus on the big picture (one of the drawbacks of being a pantser, I presume). Right now, I have to work on these scenes individually, I have to get them down.
So, writers, remember to give yourself permission to skim (or skip) scenes, to focus only on dialogue and characters or to fudge the description because you just have to finish this chapter. It’s even okay to leave bad writing alone—for now. It’s not like it’s going anywhere. If it really bugs you, highlight it to come back to later (yes, I do that). There’s a reason editing takes longer than writing the actual book—there’s a lot more of it to do then there is actual novel. I’m not really sure why that is. It seems to contradict laws of nature. Anyway, the opportunity to correct each
wrong inapt improper word will come up. Everything has its moment.