I don’t know about you, but I hate editing my work. I hate the fiddly little job, no matter how necessary it is to the creative process– I just want to move on to my next project. I have to grin and bear it, though, and what follows is some of the things I do to make editing more bearable.
First, as much as I can, I don’t edit while I write a piece. I mentioned it before in my last post, but it bears repeating. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, something just ruins the flow of your entire piece and if you don’t fix it anything that comes after it will be right. Other times, something better comes to mind, and you have to delete a passage and re-write it in a new way. Both of those are okay. But trying to spot-edit yourself as you write is a nightmare. You can fix mechanical issues in the second draft. You don’t have to put yourself through the ordeal of picking out misplaced apostrophes, spelling errors or overuse hyphens. It’s okay. It’ll still be there tomorrow.
Second, kill your darlings. That line you like? That bit of dialogue? That one turn of phrase? Throw it out. Burn it. Whatever it is, it’ll do more harm than good. You’ll make every effort to keep it in, whether or not it fits, and you’ll get frustrated bending over backward to strap a story to a clever pun about shellfish. Your editor will appreciate it too if they don’t have to fight you over something you can’t stand to remove but needs to be gotten rid of like that old sweatshirt you’ve had since middle school. Why do you still have that? It’s full of holes and barely fits you.
Third, get someone else to look at your work. Don’t let yourself be the only one editing your work. Here at the Blank Notebook, I’m fortunate to be on a team with two very talented writers and editors who butcher/ruin/improve my posts before they get put online. Your fellow authors are always excellent people to help you, as long as you’re willing to help them when they ask in turn. It’s not cool to leave people swinging in the breeze. They are your greatest resource – they know how writing works better than anyone else, and they know how to rework your phrases without losing the idea you want. Also valuable are your friends and relatives – they’ll always be happy to read what you show them, and they’ll catch all the things that would trip up a reader after publishing.
Do me, and yourself a favour. Edit your work, even though you’d rather not, and follow my advice. Your work will be all the better for it.
Cameron Jones is a hot mess, emphasis on both “hot” and “mess.” He most often writes fantasy short stories, but sometimes writes realistic fantasy to mix things up a bit. He dislikes sunlight, sudden loud noises, and writer’s block. The most surefire way to his heart is to show him pictures of cute animals.