Writing Tips: Say No To Editing
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!