Thursday, April 12, 2012

Self-Editing

Some writers love writing. Others love the editing phase of writing. They're probably in the minority. I'm one of those that loves both phases.

Those days when I seem to channel the character are bliss. I can't seem to type fast enough. I can sit at the computer and write her/his story for hours. If the "voice" in my head falters, I stop and re-read the last few pages and, voila, the character begins to talk to me again.

When I edit those pages, the process is slower - but just as much fun. I read more slowly, analyzing the words. If a phrase makes me stumble, I tear it apart and figure out what is "off". Is it a particular word? Is the construction awkward? Is it out of place? Does it need to be cut altogether? Is it repetitive? Once I have "perfected" it or even cut it, I move on.

I try not to edit while I'm in the "flow" of writing. For me, it works to do the writing in two phases. The first is "creative". The second is "critical". If there is a third phase, it's "peace." Peace is reading the passage or manuscript and not making a single note or change.

What is your method of writing and editing?
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 Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its thirteenth year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series. Bookmark and Share

18 comments :

  1. It's hard sometimes to get into the flow. When I get there, I try not to edit, but sometimes I can't help myself. It does slow down the process.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  2. I'm more comfortable with the 'flow' stage of writing, and the ideas come very fast and I have to type like crazy, often going into note format so I don't lose them. I find the critical phase far more difficult and I am still learning it. I have discovered that the rewards of being able to do it are great, for example, when you move text around to get the logic perfect, and when you change vocabulary or structure to tighten up the tension. I am beginning to see what a good experience the critical phase can be.

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  3. When I'm in the editing phase, I tend to make notes on what isn't working for me. Sometimes, I have to read and re-read in order to see exactly what changes to make and where I need to weave in the changes.

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  4. My process is similar to yours. I try to push through the creation stage without editing. When I finally figure out the right voice, the work takes off. Having recently completed a couple rounds of editing, I must say that I always felt like I was pushing the work to get better and that made the process enjoyable.

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  5. I pretty much follow your process, Helen ... except my 'flow' is more like minutes than hours. Oh, and there is another phase between 'critical' and 'peace' ... I call it 'self-loathing'.

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  6. I can crap it out just great, but editing my own work, especially soon after, is tough. Not so bad after some time has passed. I love editing other work, so I'm not sure why my own is such an issue except the obvious personal attachment.

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  7. It took me quite some time to learn to just write the gosh-darned thing and worry about quality later.

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  8. It is so tempting to write, then edit, then write... That doesn't work so well for me. Although, when I start writing the next day, I do go back and read the last few pages, sort of to remember where I left off. If I see something blatant, I'll edit it then move to writing new material.

    Dani, I think you're right. It's more difficult to edit your own work than that of others because you're so invested in your own words.

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  9. If I''m in the flow and words are coming easily, I try not to edit (as a perfectionist, this is hard!). I follow a similar track as yours -- continue typing as long as things are flowing and then if not, stop and read the last few pages and edit, if needed. I like your final phase -- peace!

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  10. I write a scene. Print it and read it in bed. Make notes. Fix things the next day. Send it to my CPs. Adjust per their suggestions, if needed.

    By the time I get to the end, I've got an almost ready-to-go manuscript. But yes, I read the entire thing again for flow, continuity, and the inevitable glitches.

    But I need to catch what I can before I get much farther along. The domino effect scares me, so I need to plug holes as I find them.

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  11. Sherrey, may the peace be with you!

    Terry, when I remember, I try to take notes on how the plot is moving and developing. I need to do that 'cause I tend to forget what I've written since I'm going with the flow.

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  12. I write in two phases...

    1. Flowed writing
    And then
    2. Gouge My Eyes Out

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  13. I'm bad. I write, edit, write, edit. Not the most efficient way to do it, but it works for me.

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  14. Helen, you've described my method perfectly in your last paragraph.

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  15. Jo, that made me laugh. I so identify with that!

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  16. I might have to try Terry's approach though. I also lose interest if I wait too long. Like the work is finished on an emotional level, even though it isn't edited... if that makes sense. Editing as I go instead of waiting until it's all written, might actually work better for me. Must try!

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  17. I absolutely adore the editing stage, as this is where you can see what your subconscious has laid in, develop theme and metaphor, and make conscious use of craft. If the first draft is pure imagination, the next drafts are where your intellect and experience get to shine.

    So for me, I endure the first draft so that I can have the materials I need to sculpt a story with. That's the fun part!

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  18. I really enjoy editing/rewriting. It's the challenge that is most fulfilling and rewarding for me. I enjoy writing as well, but I never do them at the same time. They seem, for me at least, to take two distinct mindsets and when I'm in the writing mood I'm rarely in the editing mood and vice versa.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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