Eight Tips for Editing Your Own Work (1 & 2/8)

Original post here.

#1: Don’t Edit While You’re Writing

You’ve probably heard this one time and time again: don’t stop to edit while you’re writing. It’s great advice, though many writers find it hard to stick to.  It’s fine to pause and correct a typo, or restart a sentence, while you’re creating the first draft – but don’t keep going back to delete whole sentences or paragraphs.

I don’t think I would ever want to do this.  I never have and don’t intend to.  Writing and editing are two completely separate pieces of the equation.  Furthermore, per Stephen King’s advice in On Writing (which is a fantastic and highly recommended read for any author in any genre) urges you to…

#2: Put Your Work Aside for a Few Days

Try to build extra time into your writing schedule, so that you can let your work sit before editing. With a short piece like a blog post, a day away from it – or even a few hours – is enough. If you’ve written a whole novel, try to put it aside for at least a week or two before starting the editing process.  By doing this, you make it easier to see your work afresh. You’ll come up with new ideas, and you’ll find that you can spot chapters that don’t fit, plot holes, inconsistent characterization and other big-picture problems.

I leave a considerable amount of time between drafts.  Basically, by letting the book percolate in my head and working on another project, I’ll ensure I give the next draft the full attention it deserves the next time I work on it.  As of now, with four unpublished books, only two have been reviewed in the past year.  It’s not that I love the other manuscripts any less, it’s just part of giving them time to ‘simmer.’  I don’t think rushing through the process is going to help my characters or the plot.  Furthermore, no one in particular is waiting on my material to come out.  Maybe they will in the future, but for now, I have the leisure of taking breaks.  While I still write or edit every day, I only work on one project at a time (or I would probably go insane!).

When editing, I always kick it old school. Red pen - printed draft.

7 thoughts on “Eight Tips for Editing Your Own Work (1 & 2/8)

  1. Thank-you for writing this. I am currently in the process of proof reading my series (its just the first book). I was wondering how would I get more people to want to read it? I’ve talked to my friends, people on Twitter, gave a mini sneak peek on my DeviantART page, but I want more people to be excited as I am. I’m also trying to find people who would be willing to write reviews. How would I go about that?

    1. Here’s where I found the original post: http://writetodone.com/2012/02/09/eight-simple-tips-for-editing-your-own-work/?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=Post&utm_campaign=RHSocialMedia

      As for finding people to read it, that’s a tough one! I sent out my most recent manuscript to (many) friends and to date only 2 came back with notes. It’s a lot to ask someone to take on the project of editing a manuscript. However, maybe there’s a local writing group or critique group you could connect with? I think friends and family are sometimes intimidated by taking on such a big project. It’s almost better to share with strangers who have no real investment in you personally.

      There are lots of places to get reviews. Trying googling the subject and start sending your manuscript around. Is your series in a specific genre? If so, you might want to target those reviews / reviewers directly, as they’ll be the best connection to your future audience.

    1. The four are finished, but in various stages of the editing process (I only edit and / or write one at a time). Oh, and I forgot to mention the picture book which is floating around in my head and the sequel I need to also outline. Sometimes I feel guilty about working on one, when I should probably be giving time to another. 🙂

  2. Hemingway says to read through the previous days work, editing as you go. It helps you pick up the beat and makes the editing easier later on. I’m trying his technique now. It seems to work.

    1. I think it’s to each their own – editing every day would drag me down and mess with my motivation. In my head, there is a period for creation (writing the book) and one for editing (making the book the best it can be). However, it’s obviously works for you!

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