Writing Journal Y4 Day 34: Editing

I do something that a lot of authors freak out about when they hear me say it – I edit as I write.

writing_journal_035There’s a lot of advice out there about this, and most suggest that you should write, then edit, then rewrite, then edit, so on and etc.  They see editing as you go as a barrier of sorts.  You should, they say, vomit out the idea first, then edit and refine.

I just don’t do that, and never have.  It feels wrong to me and the way my brain works.

My process:

  1. Figure out what I’m gonna write
  2. Write until I’m exhausted (or all the ‘fresh and upfront’ ideas are on the page)
  3. Go back to the beginning and read / edit
  4. When I get back to the point where I stopped before, I either continue to story until I am, once again, exhausted, or, if I’m not ready for that yet, return to the beginning and read / edit some more
  5. Rinse
  6. Repeat

This is why it’s often difficult for me to answer the question, “What draft is this?”  Um.  2…apple..X…?

It’s also why people in my critique groups read something of mine and are impressed with how clean the draft is.  That’s not saying it’s anywhere near perfect or complete, but I’ve already (hopefully) edited out all the stupid stuff.  Which frees them up to find other stupid stuff.

Other authors have told me this is insane.  Even the thought of editing while writing makes them cringe.  I find that quite interesting.

What’s your process?

1 Comment

  • pd workman Posted February 5, 2014 2:50 pm

    I tend to go back to the previous chapter or scenes and re-read them, doing a bit of editing, then picking up with my new scene. Or I may go further back if I’m stuck. I do less of this during, say, NaNoWriMo, when there is less time for review and edit, but I still do it. I think “don’t edit as you write” is advice best given to a new writer, who isn’t yet sure of his or her talent, and struggles to move out of editing scenes to perfection to begin work on the next scene or chapter. But for someone who is pretty confident in their writing, has good momentum and motivation, why not edit as you go? You piece is a lot closer to publishable format when you’re done, and you may have avoided a number of mistakes and missteps in the process.

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