Writing Tips: Say No To Editing
I chose that title to make you go all “WHAT?” and stare at me wide-eyed. Did it work?
Editing is cool. Editing is fun. Well, it’s not actually fun. I dislike editing in general (self-editing in particular) and I’m not that fond of it when I get a mail in my mailbox from my editors either. Not that I dislike my editors – they’re all very nice people – but I just don’t like edits. I don’t like to see my work ripped to shreds and…well, you get my point.
Every book needs to be edited, that’s a given. If a book isn’t edited, it shows. So I’m not holding a plea here for us authors to stop editing our books, or to stop working with professional editors for our books.
I am, however, trying to point out that editing while writing is not a good idea.
Whoever thinks editing and writing is the same, probably never tried doing both at once. When you write, you use your creativity, you dive into the part of your brain responsible for things like inspiration, you beg the muses to help you. You come up with ideas, and you try to convey those ideas to paper. Even things as small as thinking about an appropriate word, or finding a more suitable word in a thesaurus, limited that flow of creativity.
Think about what happens when you start editing.
For editing, you don’t need creativity – well, you may need some, but it’s certainly not the same amount as while you’re writing. You have to focus on a lot of different, more technical things. Am I showing the readers what’s happening as opposed to telling them? Are my sentences gramatically correct? Am I being redundant? Is that word all right in that particular sentence? Is my character reacting like a regular human being would?
And so on. My point is that while editing, we have to change our focus to the more technical side of things. In other words, the parts of our brain we use to write, and the parts of our brain we use to edit, are completely different.
So here’s my suggestion: say no to editing, while you’re still writing.
You can go about this in lots of different ways. I know authors who write in the mornings, and edit in the afternoon (after their lunch break). I’m actually quite fond of the idea of writing a chapter, taking a break, editing a chapter. And then the next day, start another chapter, edit that chapter, etc.
But that’s not always achievable. Some people prefer to write an entire first draft (NaNoWriMo style) before they start on edits. I’ve done this as well, but I think it makes the task of editing and revising a little too daunting. I much prefer editing shorter pieces at a time.
As always, this is my personal experience, so if you have any other thoughts or ideas, they’re most welcome, and appreciated. Happy writing!
4 thoughts on “Writing Tips: Say No To Editing”
Ahh, to be able to write without constant editing of what has just been written. . .
Unfortunately, I can’t do it. I’ve tried, I really have but the compulsion to edit is too overwhelming. Before I go on, I must make sure I’m on solid footing, that my story is as good as it can possibly be. The downside of that is, writing is sometimes stressful, most-times, time-consuming. And I do an awful lot of rereading what I’ve written, going back, revising, reading my revisions, reading chapters prior to my revision to ensure everything still flows. . .
The upside is, when I type “The End”, I know I have a polished work, nice and shiny and ready for betas.
The downside is, I know they’re gonna rip me a new one and I’ll be starting all over again. . .
I used to be JUST like that. But then I started doing NaNoWriMo, and well, if you want to finish 50k in one month, then you can’t go back and edit everything.
It was such a liberation. I got the feeling I was actually WRITING. And things went a lot faster.
Now I write a first draft, then go back and revise whatever I think needs revising, do a read-through and send it to critique partners and/or beta readers. I wait for their feedback, and then I start editing.
Saves me a lot of time, and it’s a lot less stressful! 😉
I’m with kkellie. A lot of times I can’t move on until I’ve untangled some of the prior prose. (I’m a pantser, and the pantsing can’t flow if it’s all mucked up. Erm, that metaphor got away from me.)
I think we all have to do what works for us, for our own individual processes. For people who are still figuring that out, I think this is a great suggestion for something to try! Unfortunately, it definitely doesn’t work for me. 🙂
I completely agree that everyone has to find what works for them. But like you said, it doesn’t hurt to try – and if it doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t. 🙂