Friday, August 13, 2010
When Editing Doesn’t Work
We have 4 options:
1. we can persevere and hope the editing will eventually iron out the kinks;
2. we can deicide it’s a lost cause and abandon the piece;
3. we can decide it’s good enough;
4. we can set it aside for a while with the plan to come back to it at a later stage.
In my opinion, the fourth option is the best choice. Time is an editor’s best friend. Time allows the writer to step back from their work and view their writing with a certain level of detachment.
The amount of time you set aside is up to you. Sometimes you’ll need only an hour. Other times you’ll need a day, a week, or even a month. In the case of my blog post, all I needed was a shower and some breakfast to see where it needed fixing.
Other ways of gaining a fresh eye for editing:
Read your piece out loud. It might feel strange at first, but it has a way of highlighting the rhythms of your words. It’s equivalent to an artist holding up their painting to a mirror. Seeing the art in reverse gives the artist a new way of looking at it. When you read your writing out loud, you’ll discover it’s easier to find the flaws.
Have someone else read your piece. Getting feedback from a range of different people is essential for improving your work. Even those who have no writing background can still offer a different perspective on your piece.
And, finally, sometimes we have to accept that a stubborn piece of writing will take more than a few word changes to fix. Sometimes it will need a full rewrite. And sometimes it will need to be tossed. If this is the case, don’t despair. No writing is wasted writing because the more we write, the more we improve.
What do you do when your editing doesn’t work?