Edit, edit, edit again (and again and again…)

It’s been awhile since I’ve made the time to sit down and write. First, there were winter quarter finals, then my spring break road trip, and then a week and a half of work (did I tell ya’ll I have four part-time jobs now?) and slow but steady progress on the last dregs of my grad school applications. Grad school applications require a lot of writing. So by the end of the day, I didn’t really have the energy to sit down and type. I did, however, binge The 100 (again) and So Cosmo (I thought it would focus on the actual writing part of the magazine. It’s very entertaining but I was very wrong).

Now that I have a moment to catch my breath, I’ve started working on my two big writing projects again. And looking over my last few pages of each one I was reminded of something very important.

Editing is a very important thing.

As a journalism major and a professional & creative writing major the importance of editing was impressed on me over and over throughout my college education. I knew that editing was a part of the writing process before college, but I always loathed taking that second look at my work. Some of my original writing, whether it was creative or academic, was cringe-inducing in its repetition, word choice, and blandness. Not only that, but I never built editing time into my writing plan, so I crammed editing into whatever time I had after finishing the piece. This is problematic because writers often need to give their writing space before they can take another look at it. The familiarity of the copy is boring and can cause you to miss mistakes or inadvertently skip whole sentences because you think you already know what’s written there.

This is problematic because writers often need to give their writing space before they can take another look at it. The familiarity of the copy is boring and can cause you to miss mistakes or inadvertently skip whole sentences because you think you already know what’s written there.

Funnily enough, editing and copyediting were two of the things I enjoyed the most in the journalism program. As long as it was another person’s work. Let me tell you, there is some physical pain when an editor reads through a piece and they can tell the writer never gave the ‘final product’ a second glance.

I’ve edited some of the posts on One More Sarah TWENTY-FIVE times before they hit the web. I know because WordPress is kind enough to track it for me.

My first short story that I submitted to literary magazines underwent more than 18 distinct drafts and still didn’t make it into a publication.

I compared my final works to the originals, and wow, I’m so glad I edited. It was like looking at pieces by two different writers with two different goals, two different levels of education, and two different voices. The before-and-after impressed me, and remember, I was the one that had done the editing.

So yes, editing is an important thing, and pretty necessary.

I encourage all the writers out there that don’t believe in the power of editing or dread editing their work to consider to perks that come with editing. Even more familiarity with the final written work, the chance to add the little details that can make all the difference, the peace of mind that comes with knowing this is good work, and so much more.

What tips do other writers out there have for those of us that dread the editing process?

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