Spewer or Write-itor?

I’m a Gemini. Not that I whole heartedly believe in astrology, but the twins description certainly fits me. I’m right brain and left brain: I majored in art, minored in math. I’m a panser (write by the seat of my pants) and a plotter. And this week I learned I’m a spewer and a write-itor. (Those two word are what Reed Farrel Coleman uses to describe those who write the entire manuscript and then go back and edit—spewers—versus those who write-edit-write-edit-write and so on—write-itors.)

Well, to be honest, I’m more of a write-itor than a spewer. I always tell others, especially new writers, to simply write the story and then go back and fix it, but I just don’t seem to be able to do that myself. Oh, there are days (sometimes weeks) when the words flow and I don’t think of going back and making changes. But then, somewhere in the story I realize something needs to be included in an earlier scene, or a character I thought I knew so well reveals that he isn’t the man I thought he was, and I need to tweak the scenes he’s in.

The writers who absolutely amaze me are those who write a story and that’s it. They don’t go back and make changes. They don’t need to. I’m not talking about those vain writers who believe every word they write is golden and shouldn’t be touched. (I’ve run into people like that. They’re the ones who give self-publishing a bad name.) No, I’m talking about those amazing people who create and edit in their heads so when they actually write the story, it is in finished form. These people will make changes if an editor sees a flaw, but their first draft is usually as polished as my final draft.

All I can say about those writers is we are not all created equal.

Last week I thought I could be a spewer. I was at a place in my wip where I just want to keep going. But I made the mistake (thank goodness) of asking a retired homicide detective if a victim’s car would be searched. Well, it seems not only would the victim’s car be searched, but also the “person of interest’s” car. The cars would be searched and impounded as evidence. And their houses would become crime scenes.

My first reaction after learning this was to pour myself a glass of wine and then another and another. For three days I didn’t write, but I thought, and thought, and thought. I thought maybe I could simply use some Post-it notes to indicate where changes needed to be made. And I started a list of those changes. But then I realized that simply wasn’t going to work, not for me. I needed to go back to the beginning and make the changes wherever and as often as they needed to occur. Definitely write-itor behavior.

One more day and I should be up to the point where I was last week. So far I’ve added about 2,000 words, and I think the story is much stronger, so I’m glad I’ve done the rewrites. Once I reach that point, I hope I can move forward, be a spewer.

What do you think? Are you a Spewer or a Write-itor?

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23 Responses to Spewer or Write-itor?

  1. Alexa Bourne says:

    I’m totally a spewer. I figure out the plot as I write the rough draft and then I go back and revise and rearrange scenes and eventually I figure out who the bad guy is! (This is probably why it takes me 4 or 5 drafts too!)

  2. Diane Burton says:

    I’m more a write-itor, but there are times when the words just spew. Love those days. Good luck on your wip.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks, Diane. I am getting closer to the end. I have to keep pushing forward. I entered, “I will write a book” this year and want that last page ready by the end of November.

  3. Julia Masters says:

    Great post, Maris. I am most definitely a “write-itor.” Sometimes I wish I could I could turn off my internal editor and just write the whole story. I need the validation and motivation of typing “The End.” Any suggestions on how to just push through that first draft?

    • Maris Soule says:

      Julia, my suggestion would be “Just do it.” Of course, I find it impossible to follow that advice, so I’m really not the one to ask. 🙂

  4. I totally relate to this, Maris, but then, I’m a fellow Gemini, too. If I discover I need to make a change or addition after I’m well into the story, I try to insert a note and keep writing but it usually doesn’t work, especially if the revision is significant. I’ve learned to do what works for me on that particular day. Someday I may find the perfect solution. or not.

  5. Misty Dietz says:

    Oh how I wish I was a spewer, but I’m just way too anal for that. I’m hoping, however, to be a little less of a write-itor this next go round. 🙂

    • Maris Soule says:

      Misty, I always think I’ll be different with the next book, but darn it all, that internal editor keeps popping up. Here’s hoping you succeed.

  6. Penni Pease-Shafer says:

    Great post! I think that with word processor software everyone becomes a little write itor but when when I find I’m spending more time editing that writing I grab the pen and legal pad and make myself go forward. It’s a much harder edit that way. Thanks for all you do.

  7. I guess I’m a combination. Sometime spewer, sometime write-itor all the time pantser though. My writing tends to come in spurts of scenes I then, somehow, move around into a sort of cohesive story.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Margo, I’ve never been able to simply write scenes and then fit them in. I think it’s that left brain part of me. I need to work in a linear fashion.

  8. Kristen says:

    What a great post! I’ve heard pantser/plotter, but this is a new classification for me. I’m a write-itor with definite spewer tendencies when I get on a roll. I like being that way, I think, but it sure seems to take a lot longer!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Again, as far as I know, the credit for those two terms goes to Reed Farrel Coleman. I love it when I’m a spewer. I really feel like I’m getting somewhere. But then than imaginary editor pops in and says, “Wait a minute…”

  9. Awesome post, Maris! I just love reading your blog! I’m definitely a write-itor. But, I wish I was a spewer sometimes because it sounds so fun!

  10. I’m a write-itor too 🙂 I like the term. So much better than calling myself a few other names I’d had lined up for my writing habits.

    Thanks so much for sharing!


  11. Melissa Keir says:

    Like you I am a mixture of both. Mostly a write-ior but there are those times when it spews!

  12. I am definitely predominantly a write-itor. I am a little over halfway through this draft, and the beginning had been rewritten 4 times. I do go in spurts though, with a few weeks of just writing, then going back and editing for a week or two (or, more recently, almost 6). I think it because I like to go back and read what I have written every now and then, and I am just too compulsive to leave any inconsistencies there to fix later.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Boy oh boy, Susi, you sound like me. I have finally gone through my ms (as far as it’s been written) and made the changes I deemed necessary. I’m hoping I can now go forward and finish the book. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  13. Bonnie Alkema says:

    Ellen howard is one of those folks who would write and edit in her head and then put it on paper. She called it being a “thin” writer which didn’t use much paper, as opposed to a “fat” writer who used lots of paper. I always envied that.

    Enjoyed your blog, as always.