I have used the word craft to describe my process of taking a rough draft and turning it into prose so often that I’d almost forgotten that it wasn’t the common way of looking at the writing process.
Recently, I was being interviewed for a potential freelancing project, and I used craft and polish to describe my process. The words derailed the conversation as the interviewer expressed how much he approved of the terms and the process implied. It took a few minutes to get back to the point of the interview.
Words have power. How we describe ourselves and what we do has the power to express how we regard what we do, which impacts others’ attitudes about what we do.
I don’t just write, revise, and proofread. I draft, craft, and polish.
But why? What difference does it make?
For one, it gives the perfectionist in me permission to write sloppy the first time around. It acknowledges that it takes time, effort, and multiple passes to create worthy prose. But you could get that simply by acknowledging that revision is part of your process.
So, why craft?
According to Dictionary.com:
Revise is “to alter something already written or printed, in order to make corrections, improve, or update: to revise a manuscript.”
Craft is “to make or manufacture (an object, objects, product, etc.) with skill and careful attention to detail.”
So, revising is to correct or improve a created manuscript, while crafting is to create a manuscript with skill and careful attention to detail. In other words, crafting is what you do to create a manuscript that’s ready to be shared with others, while revising is what you do to get the approval of an editor who wants the manuscript you’ve crafted.
I look at this way:
- I plan what I want to say to create a silhouette of that manuscript in my mind.
- I draft what I want to say to get the silhouette of my plan on paper.
- I craft the drafted prose into a manuscript that actually says what I want to say.
- I polish the manuscript so it says what I want to say clearly and accurately.
- Later, after the manuscript has been reviewed by someone who can tell me where I succeeded and where I failed, I revise the manuscript to increase the success of the piece.
- Finally, someone else proofreads the manuscript to catch typos and mistakes that I may have missed.
Crafting is an integral part of my process, because it’s the part where I turn concept into real prose. I think it’s safe to say that learning to craft is where I transitioned from apprentice to journeyman. As an apprentice, I would draft, then I would revise, neither of which gave me the opportunity to really capture what I really wanted to say. As a journeyman, I draft to get it on paper, and then I craft to really capture what it is I’m writing. The crafting stage is where I own my art.