Ask any writer which part of their work they find the most challenging and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if many say it is editing. In my limited experience as an author I have found the process of editing to be both highly exhilarating and utterly frustrating!
At times you get a high when you craft a great description, ruthlessly cut the flab in your writing or re-sequence some part of the story to make it more interesting. At other times, it can be very frustrating to wade through page after page of your writing hunting for areas for improvement, correcting obvious and not so obvious mistakes and proof reading to make sure silly errors like typos haven’t crept in.
Based on my successful efforts in NaNo WriMo in 2009 and 2010, I have found an approach that works for me. I call it “ Write In A Hurry, Edit At Leisure”. You will recall that the aim of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. You don’t have too much time to dawdle! My debut novel “It Can’t Be You” was based on my efforts in NaNoWriMo of 2009.
I have found it easy to dash off as many lines as possible as thoughts and idea strike me. I need to cash in on the flow. At that stage my mind is on the story, trying to think and act the way I imagine my characters would. For me that’s not the time to bother about spelling mistakes or grammatical errors leave alone trying to improve the quality of the writing. At this stage I go for speed and get down the thoughts as they flow. The time to look at the mistakes is yet to come.
In the next phase, which is the editing phase, my emphasis is no longer on speed but on being thorough. In this I spot and work on areas for improvement, correct spelling and grammar mistakes and work towards making my output not only more readable but more appealing to the reader.
There are many aspects of editing and there’s a huge amount of material available on the subject. It is, I believe, a difficult task but one that has to be done and done well by the author. It is no longer enough these days for the author to write a book and hope for the best! We need to do most of the editing ourselves so that the total package offered to the publisher is far more attractive as a selling proposition. It should not be a huge a collection of pages which many manuscripts unfortunately turn out to be from the publishers stand point.
So the next time you are writing a book, do what works for you but you might find WIAHEAL to be of value. WIAHEAL of course stands for Write In A Hurry, Edit At Leisure!