Okay, I know some of you are probably looking at that title and crying foul, thinking Writing IS Storytelling. And in some ways you're right. But I do think there's a difference too.
See, lately I've been trying to figure out why I hate revision so much, because you know what? I thought I'd love it. In case you haven't noticed this about me, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I like details. I like things neat, and orderly. And first drafts are MESSY. They're about as far from perfect as they can be (except for those rare people who write perfect first drafts, but let's face it, nobody likes those people so we're going to ignore their existence) :) So I always figured I'd love the revision stage, because that's when you really dig into all the little details and nuances and perfect them.
But I HATE it! And here's why:
When I'm writing new words--once I get to that zone where I force my brain to stop thinking about the fact that at least half (okay, 2/3) of what I'm writing is total crap--I get lost in the story. It's just me, my characters, the world they inhabit, and the things happening to them and I'm loving every second of it because I want to know what's going to happen next (yes, I'm a bit of a pantser. I let my characters lead the way).
I can't tell you how many times the story has taken me places I never planned to go, or characters have popped up out of nowhere, or done things I never thought they would do. And it's MAGIC. Sure, when I read it later I realize what a big suckfest a lot of it is. But when I'm lost in the story it doesn't matter.
And then...there's revision.
Revision is WRITING. It's looking at all those boring, cliched metaphors or flat, lifeless descriptions, or repetitive phrases or confusing plotlines and trying to make them good. It's about knowing the principles of plot, and character development, and pacing and then bending your words to conform--or consciously deciding when to break those rules. It's about sending pages to critique partners and getting tons of notes and trying to figure out which notes work, which don't, how to apply them, how to ripple the changes through the parts you want to keep, etc.
In fact, half the time when I'm revising, I'm barely thinking about the story. I'm thinking about how to make the dialogue in a specific scene pop, or how to ground the characters in their setting more, or how to explain something that exists only in my head to a person who can't see it.
It's not about storytelling anymore. It's about writing.
I'm not saying revision's not important. Revision is what turns stories into something good enough that publishers will pay money to print it as a book that people will then pay money to buy and read. But it's not as fun as storytelling, IMHO.
So I'm a writer. I write and I revise and revise some more and then, just when I think I'm done, I revise again. But I prefer when I'm a storyteller. Then it's just me and a blank page (er--Word doc) telling the stories in my head. I'm looking very forward to the day I can go back to that place. Hopefully I'll be there soon.
How about you guys? Do you prefer writing or storytelling? Or do you think they're the same thing and revision has turned me crazy? :)