1. Soodanim
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    Soodanim Member

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    Don't edit! Just write!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Soodanim, Jan 14, 2013.

    Hello everyone. My name is Soodanim. I'm an editoholic.

    Once I get past the problems of motivation and actually sit down to write, I find that the biggest hurdle I need to overcome is the desire to edit what I write. I have this insatiable need to craft every sentence as if it's some sort of artwork that needs to stand out and yet form a majestic whole that is the wonder of the paragraph.

    It's very tiresome.

    Lately I've been working very hard to stick to a mantra that one of my teachers tried to beat into my stubborn brain years ago. That mantra being, "Don't edit! Just write!" I'm finding that it works very well. I've somehow managed to complete two short stories and a few chapters of a novel just in the last month. A feat that normally would be well beyond my meagre capability. Not only that, but I'm quite proud of the short stories. After writing them, I've gone back and rewritten them extensively but doing so was far and away easier than doing so whilst I'm attempting to write it in the first place.

    I'd recommend this philosophy as a treatment for anyone who's experiencing painful edititis or chronic procrastinitis or the ever lethargic writer's blockitis.

    Just a thought.
     
  2. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    I'm in the same boat as you. Writing my novel and not editing it makes me feel unsatisfied and as though I've missed out on a bunch of typos and stylistic imperfections (which I no doubt have). Oh well. It helps not interrupt the creative process. Editing this monster is going to be quite the task though, having to spot every misspelling, tweaking sentences, inserting synonyms for less pertinent words, etc., stuff which I normally like to do as I write.
     
  3. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I wrote a book a few years ago. I've been editing it ever since. :(

    But it is a heck of a lot better for it.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If one is prone to edit-itis, it probably won't make any difference when one edits. The trick is not when to edit, but when to stop. Personally, I would go bonkers if I didn't edit along the way, and I would never finish a story if I had to stare at a full ms that hadn't been edited yet.
     
  5. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I write fresh material and edit existing material more or less in alternation depending on my mood. Is there a difference? If I throw away a chapter and write it from scratch is that writing or just massive editing? I don't want to spend massive amounts of time crafting perfect sentences for a scene that ends up getting deleted anyway. On the other hand it's fun to see skeletal scenes come to life after several editing passes.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Excellent point. If I edit a piece too much, I begin to doubt what I've written, and in the end, my work feels too polished. Basically, my work of fiction ends up reading like a philosophy essay.
     
  7. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    I like to start each day's writing session by first editing what I wrote the day before. I typically only write about 1,000 words per day so editing 1,000 words a day isn't too demanding. Plus, it helps to sort of warm up my brain to get me going on writing that day's words after editing the previous day's stuff.
     
  8. neuropsychopharm
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    neuropsychopharm Active Member

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    I almost never edit, sometimes to my detriment. But I agree that the best way for some to go about it is to just let the ideas "flow" and worry about the editing process later. I edit for grammatical errors as I'm writing, and little else unless something better just comes to me.
     
  9. dudlite
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    dudlite Member

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    I have the same problem. I find it very difficult not edit as I go, especially when writing short stories. I wrote a short story last night without editing and it turned out well, when I usually never finish as I obsess over every sentence.
     
  10. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Revision needs to happen at some point and it also needs to stop at some point. But I say you have to have something written in order to edit. Hence why I recommend finishing a draft of whatever it is you're working on.
     
  11. radnommandess
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    radnommandess Member

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    I usually go back and edit when I get writers block. It is a great way to get the ideas flowing again.
     
  12. Drusy
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    Drusy Senior Member

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    Agree. OP passed along good advice but it doesn't work for everyone. I would literally never get past the first paragraph if I didn't edit along the way. Of course, I'm not going for perfection first time out - but if I know a sentence is complete rubbish or if I have a typo - I won't be able to go forward. It's a quick fix and I move on. The key (as others have pointed out) is not to get trapped by it.
     
  13. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    I stopped revising as I write my first draft some time ago, and found it really does help a lot with motivation. Yes, my story is not as clear cut and beautiful as I would like it to be, but it creeps forward a lot faster than it used to, and that motivates me to keep going.
    I will definately take Stephen King's advice from On Writing, and let my story sit for a few months before I begin the editing process so that I get some distance to the story, and can view it with fresh eyes.
    To quote: "it's always easier to kill someone else's darlings than your own."
     
  14. Khaelmin
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    Khaelmin Active Member

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    I, on the other hand, am so lazy I almost never edit something after I've labeled it as 'done' and put it away or post it or whatever. It does get one or two read overs and spell checks, but this usually happens right after I've written the last sentence. I know this is to my detriment, because every story needs to be looked at with a fresh eye, after a week or two. If I begin editing in the same session as when I've written it, I'm too fired up and I usually miss awkward expressions or even glaring errors. It's like I'm not even reading most sentences. :confused:
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to keep the story/article/whatever going, i write till i get to the end... then is the time to go back and check for typos, goofs 'n glitches...

    to keep going back and forth before finishing a piece of work not only makes extra work, but will interrupt the flow of the piece from mind to paper/screen, which i find to be the most important thing to consider...

    of all the successful writers i've known and read about, none did/do what so many beginners get stuck on doing... which is why they are always thanking their editors and domestic partners for proofing their work... i'd be interested in knowing if any of you who keep fiddling as you write have heard of any well-known successful authors who did/do what you do...
     
  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why is editing/revising as you go considered "fiddling"? Why is it assumed that the "creative flow" is slowed or stopped because of it? Why is it assumed that editing as you go creates more work than going over a full ms and perhaps rewriting massive portions of it?

    Please don't act as if the method you use is the only good method.
     
  17. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    I 'fiddle' a lot. As and when I think it needs it. Sometimes I need to keep writing because the thoughts keep coming, sometimes it's time to 'fiddle'. Go with the flow.

    I am a great believer in 'your first thought is your best thought' so I tend not to change too much, just 'adjust' a bit here and there.

    I do know an author who edits every sentence. It's his way of doing things. Takes him a while, but once he's finished his book, it's all done and dusted.

    And I do agree with shadowwalker, everyone to his own.
     
  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is where you and I differ. First, the amount of work stays the same or even decreases if I edit as I write, because I'm so close to the fire, so to speak, and the metal is still hot enough to be worked easily. Second, it most definitely does NOT interrupt the flow of the piece. One reason I edit as I go is that I get my best ideas while editing - I HAVE to edit as I go, or my best stuff doesn't get into the draft. This editing is not simply correction of SPaG errors; rather, it's where the strength of the project comes from. It allows me to wind up with a good, strong first draft, at least on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph level.

    Often, of course, when working this way, I have to go back in the second draft and tear out big sections - 10,000 or even 20,000 words - because they don't belong, because by the time I get to the end, I'm telling a better story than I started off telling. I have to replace these sections with new ones that support the story I'm ending up with.

    I've heard of dozens. I'm a huge junkie for writer interviews, and I've read hundreds of them. I subscribe to The Paris Review and I have volumes of their collected author interviews, along with many other books of writer interviews. It will take me some time to go through all of them looking for good examples, but I can start here and now with Ernest Hemingway. This is an excerpt from his Paris Review interview:

    Interviewer: Do you do any rewriting as you read up to the place you left off the day before? Or does that come later, when the whole is finished?
    Hemingway: I always rewrite each day up to the point where I stopped. When it is all finished, naturally you go over it. You get another chance to correct and rewrite when someone else types it, and you see it clean in type. The last chance is in the proofs. You're grateful for these different chances.
     
  19. Quille
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    Quille Senior Member

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    I used to spend so much time rewriting the beginning of a piece that I'd never finish it. Before the holidays I completed the first draft of a novel. It was struggle not to start at the beginning every day, but I limited myself to only going back a page or so. When I got stuck, I'd tell myself it was just a draft and push on past that point. There's a whole chapter that really bored me when writing it, so I know it needs a lot of work.

    I also found that details in the story changed as I worked through my outline, so spending at lot of time rewriting before I'd finished wouldn't have been a benefit.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...i don't!... nor do i think it is... do we really have to put 'this is only my opinion' or add 'imo' to every single thing we post?... isn't that a given in a forum such as this?... i thought it was...

    for the record, folks, whatever i write/ say anywhere on this site or anywhere else on the net, or in private, is MY OPINION ONLY... and is based on my 74 years of living and observing and learning and the past 3 decades of professional experience...

    i do not intend for anyone to take anything i say as gospel...

    sorry if that wasn't clear to any of you... guess i should add that caveat to my sig...

    love and apologetic hugs, m
     
  21. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    I normally edit when i'm not feeling totally in the mood to write (ie tired or something), it keeps me involved in the story and might spark the creativity when i'm feeling the writers block coming on.
     
  22. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your second paragraph did sound a little "factual", but I'm probably a little "hyper" about the subject, so my apologies for jumping on you. I should know better in this case :)
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no prob, sw!

    forgiving hugs, m
     
  24. goddessofwords
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    goddessofwords Member

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    I will have to try this; I'm exactly like you in a way. It's hard for me to complete my stories because I want to sit there and edit while I'm writing. It becomes very annoying and I get discouraged. (I just realized I'm sitting here typing this and editing it as well -_-.)
     
  25. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    I have a certified solution for you:
    Write with your hand first, on some paper.
    Your urge to edit will lessen.
    Later, when you type it in, you'll automatically be revising it.

    I advise you to try this.
     

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