Writing is hard. Editing is even harder, mostly because we don’t want to do it. Here are some tips to help you efficiently use your time and reach that final draft.
- Not editing. Of course this one has to be on here. If you feel like your first draft is prime for the world’s eyes then that means a) you’re not looking hard enough or b) you’re not giving that draft all you have and it’s not at its full potential.
- Only using self-editing. Hey, I’m guilty of this one too sometimes. It’s scary to share the beginning stages of your work with someone. Not because we don’t know how to edit things ourselves but sometimes we are just so intertwined with our work that we need new eyes on it. Be it a friend, partner, or even a paid editor – just anyone but you. They’ll find holes in your plot and will get questions or comments that you would have never seen before.
- Only doing a couple of drafts. This mistake is similar to the previous mistake – sometimes you’ll catch an error in your work that you didn’t realize you made earlier or find new areas you could tighten up. Plus, it makes sharing it with others for critique a little easier.
- You don’t want to change your piece. We shouldn’t censor ourselves during our first drafts in order to give us as much as possible to work with. However, not everyone sees our imagined worlds in the same way. That “kill your darlings” line? It’s true. Often, our favorite pieces are outliers to the piece and stand out for a reason. Try to read your work through your reader’s eyes.
- Editing too quickly. Blog posts excluded. Beginning editing immediately after finishing your first draft is like telling someone I love you on the second date. The more time that passes between finishing the draft and editing it, the more objective your mind becomes. You’ll be stuck in the writer’s mindset rather than the reader’s. I’m not suggesting year-long breaks between pieces but maybe a trip to the cafe or enough of a break to pat yourself on the back for finishing a draft.