Not In the Mood to Edit

>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Editing is one of those inevitable things with writing, where you go back and fix and polish your work. I've talked about reading things out loud and about letting it set a bit. What I haven't done is tell you when you shouldn't be editing.

See, when writing is ready to come out, you can't stop it. And, at least in my case, when it's not in me, I can't write. There's no right or wrong time. I write because I have to.

But editing is something else. It's hard to look at your own work with fresh eyes and try to figure out what's wrong with it. Even if you've managed to detach yourself enough to be (fairly) objective, you know what you were trying to convey, why the characters act the way they do, what you meant to say. Many times I miss whole words I'd forgotten to write in the heat of writing it down the first time and my mind automatically supplies them when I edit. Very embarrassing, some of those slips are.

It's necessary, time-consuming, and rarely fun, at least for me. But, no matter the urge to get it over with, I've discovered there are two times I should leave it be a bit longer:

(a) When it sounds perfect
(b) When it sounds like unadulterated crap

If I feel either way when I start, where everything is perfect or everything sucks royally, I'll know I'm too close to it for whatever reason. I'll need perspective or what editing I do will be warped.

'Cause, in the end, it's not about feeling good about it; it's about making something good.


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