Writing It always feels personal

How to Edit

Write a thing. Briefly celebrate that you brought this thing into the universe. Don’t celebrate by hitting publish. This done thing is only 50% done. Walk away from it. Get it completely out of your head. Your goal is to forget that you wrote this thing.

Days later. Print it out and read the thing again, but do not edit as you read. Start at the beginning and read to the end. Leave your red editing pen alone. You want to best approximate the first reading experience by someone else. Okay. Red pen time. Now edit harshly. How does the story sound in your head? Slash anything that detracts from the narrative harmony. Remind yourself as you remove your favorite paragraph that there will always be more words. Still, only 75% done.

Give your thing to someone you trust. Tell them to edit harshly. When their response arrives, brace yourself. It always feels personal, but it’s not. They have taken the time to make your writing better. Celebrate this as you grit your teeth.

One more external edit, a final person who won’t edit the narrative, but will edit the copy. This feels less personal but is as important as all editing to date because a single error permanently disrupts the flow of a reader. 95%.

Leave it alone again. Just long enough to forget once more. Print it out again. Go somewhere quiet and find the one aspect of your piece that needs… just a nudge. Nudge it.

Now celebrate.

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  1. Much later. Read it again. Red pen in hand and edit some more.