I used to have a roommate who was a “colorist”; as a young artist intern, she colored-in the black and white artwork of a senior artist.
Recently, it occurred to me that Stage II of writing a novel is kind of like that, at least for me. When I finish a first draft, I make sure the plot is working. Then I go back to the beginning and concentrate on the writing: polishing, polishing, polishing. It’s like inserting color into something black and white. Yes, I put effort into the writing on the first round, but I can’t help feeling a little anxious to get to the next bit, discover what’s around the corner, get the shape of it all down. And I’m still getting to know my characters, after all (not just their personalities, but their way of speaking).
Only then, when the first draft is done, can I relax enough to start from the beginning and improve the writing itself, word by word, sentence by sentence. Maybe my characters have a whiff of a “voice”; now that I’m familiar with that whiff, it’s time to nail it down. Maybe I’ve got bits of humor in the scenes; now it’s time to ramp that up. Etcetera.
I can’t draw worth anything, but I can color drawings once they’re in front of me. Why else are coloring books so popular, and not just for kids anymore?