Sometimes I Can Only Type A – A Writer’s Self Editing Rant

editing

 

As a writer there is nothing better then typing the words The End onto whatever story you have been etching onto the page from the very inner depths of your brink, sinew and soul.

Sure there can be a bittersweet edge laced into the Fin of what the words represent, for no longer will this world be new to you. The characters have told their story through your words and now you must part ways and move on to the next…well at least that’s what those words could lead one to believe, but The truth of the matter is that you are just getting started in your intimacy with this world.

Hello Second draft!

With the second draft comes a second wind of creative escape. No longer are you creating from nothing but rather defining and finessing the infrastructure of your foundation. You’re decorating the house which you have built. You are making your creation a cozy and welcoming home for your characters and their story.

When romanticized in the descriptive of a creative writer it really sounds thrilling. I’m almost looking forward to editing…but then the reality of the actual second draft hits.

Hello real second draft (second draft part two, or third draft – if you like to pretend you actually got something done in your first go around!)

Yes, don’t let the description above fool you, because the truth of the matter is that when you go back over your first draft you aren’t really in editing mode, I mean you see some flaws, but what writer isn’t at least a little caught up – despite their best efforts – in the thrill of completion? But you know as well as I that what one really needs to do is go all editor on their works ass meaning that all creativity must be put to the side to make room for all of the little, technical things that might have been missed in the excitement of reading through your vision on page and complete for the first time.

I don’t know about other writer’s but this is my biggest struggle because…Hello my name is Glory Anna and I am a imagination power house of a perfectionist…

but only when it comes to my work.

On the whole I’d like to think of myself as a pretty subjective person. I know how to separate church and state, but when it comes to my work I have a lot a quirks and preferences when it comes to the standards I hold myself to when creating. If its something I bitch about in other writing then it has no room in my own. Even the most minute of continuity has to be crossed checked and referenced. This story is as old as time but I will continue to reference it to illustrate my point – I once redid an entire fight/stunt scene, choreography and everything, (TBM style, mind you because you know how I do! ;))  because I felt like one character got unduly lost in the chaos of a more then twenty character packed melee!

One Character!

And believe you me I had a blast every re-step of production!

It’s just who I am. So when it comes to editing my own writing I can be a little intimidated for what it will entail. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to get the job done and meet any deadline that comes my way but on the whole I think it is hard for most writer’s to edit their own work from a completely technical angle, after all we are the creators of these worlds. It’s like asking a parent to be completely subjective when judging a baby cuteness competition – not gonna happen! From nothing we brought it to life so of course we will constantly be adding and subtracting and thinking of new ways and different means to get the job done. “But what about this? Or This? Oh my god that would be so cool! That would be better? Does that even make sense? etc, etc.”

Its our imaginations prerogative!

And as for the volunteering of friends, family, writer’s club groupies I love it when they read my work but it can be really hard to find the reader you need when you need it. For there are a plethora of “fresh eyes” that a writer wants, we want the reader who will witness it from the viewpoint of a fan, we want the viewpoint of an editor, of a publisher, of a completely unbiased bystander, of a sycophant, creative insight, constructive criticism, the list could go on and on, but when it comes to a professional “the end” when you can safely hit publish or submit and share it without the worry of looking like a complete hack a writer needs someone who can asses without getting lost in the minutia.

Even when I tell myself that this is just a spelling/grammar read through I see things that can be improved and tightened and fleshed out and, and, and…

It’s not that I want a robot, but I want someone who can be subjective to my objective, I want to know if it makes sense, if it’s consistent, if the characters are strong enough, basically if it follows through on what I/it set out to do – and yes whether or not I go off on any weird tangents that make the likes of Thackeray and Dickens jealous.

I want to know my POV is clear and concise, because when you get right down to it if you are the writer you are almost unqualified if not wholly incapable of doing this! Because you know what you meant when you wrote it. You know what you were trying to say, where its all going, and what it’s all supposed to mean.

This is why editing is such a grand and exulted (in my opinion!) profession But that’s just not an option for a lot of us (at least not yet! ;)) So what does one do to break through the intimidation, the overthinking, and the doubt that they’re not seeing what they need to be seeing?

Well here are a few good tips that have help get me through the process without going into full precision overload:

Automated Spell/Grammar Check

If you don’t use a program that already has this feature you can find some free tools online via search engine. It’s amazing to me that this is something that not all writer’s do automatically, for I think I’d be lost without it!

As it is I’ve recently found out that you can fill it to capacity!…Uh not that I’m that naturally ungifted when it comes to the art of language, but I do this first run thing where I don’t pay any attention to the colored squigglys – meaning I don’t correct its trying to correct the names of my chosen and sometimes made up nouns  (plurals and non), so be warned that in a 400+ page document it can poop out on a gal!

And well spelling/grammar check can be uber frustrating  (Side note: Tony’s is a really red line wonder, go fig!)  It’s still a great place to start.

Speak It Don’t Think It!

Seriously when rereading your writing read out loud. Play the narrator of your own stories, act like your reading it to someone, this will unconsciously help see how easily it flows – or doesn’t – and will allow you to apply the necessary fix to correct without going overboard.  Some programs and software even provide the option to hear your words read back to you. So play with it. Make it real.

WordHippo Is Literally My Favorite App

Thesaurus, thesaurus, thesaurus! Nothing makes a  sentence more sloppy then one that overuses the same nouns, verbs and adjectives. So go through and replace any clunky language by downloading your choice ( for android users I highly suggest WordHippo! – no affiliate link required. ;p) and watch your vocabulary and document expand for the better.

Time Yourself! Know Yourself! Have A Clear Goal!

Never, ever let yourself get carried away with your OCD, don’t undo all the hard work that you just bled into your document because you could keep adding. Hone the reins of your creative and build within the perimeters you set yourself before delving into the monotony of editing. Know what you want from your editing game. Is it just good spelling? Is it good flow? Is it a complete continuity check, character depth, etc?

Be sure to know what it is your getting into so you get out what you set out to do! Set a time limit, take it in sections, split up your prerogatives.

Honestly, sometimes I think that editing is where the real outline comes in.

Have A Creative Escape

When editing gets to be too much its always nice – I’ve found – to have creative work that I can take a break and escape into. It helps the juices to flow, the mind have fun, and your eyes refresh.

It’s always good to step away when overwhelmed, stressed, or feeling insecure and what better way then by reminding yourself why it is you’re editing in the first place! We do what we do because we love it. Every last tortuously joyous dark night of the soul and bright side of the moon of it!

I “The End” never edit to the point of blindness. Know your weaknesses, know your strengths, and trust when you have to call it a day and finally just submit.

After all the most a writer can ever do is write and hope that the heart of the page speaks for itself and not the overthinking that keeps pecking at the back of your brain.

 

 

 

 

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