Bashers and Swoopers
Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps:
Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.
When asked which he was, here’s how The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman answered:
I think that I’m in a third camp, closer to the swoopers than the bashers, but somewhere in the middle, where I can see the campfires (and hear the agonizing cries) of both. I swoop more than I bash, but I also swoop in that second part, the going-over-what’s-there, and the result is that I either decide that something works or decide that it’s gone forever. When it goes forever, it doesn’t really disappear: it goes into a file for possible future use. Sometimes it becomes the seed of something later on, or it becomes a reminder to me of why I shouldn’t try a certain approach (an Esperanto novel, say). Vonnegut suggests that either you’re fast and then careful, or careful and then satisfied. I feel fast and carefree—I like the feel of the wind on my face when I write, so to speak—and then ruthless about releasing that thing into the wild or caging it up for a while.
[via Brooklyn Magazine’s “9 Brooklyn Writers and How They Work”]