1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Editing as I go

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, Aug 24, 2016.

    For some reason I cannot get myself to avoid editing as I go. I worry that if I simply write out my thoughts like I am doing right now, I will write a series of simple sentences that cannot be combined into better ones. Right now I seem to be writing sentences of decent length, but when I try to write certain things, the sentences I write are very short. But that is not even the problem. The problem is that I can't seem to avoid editing, but when I edit as I go, many times I wind up using the wrong words and getting tired before finishing a paragraph, especially when trying to write something rhythmical.

    Should I allow myself to edit as I go, or should I get over that somehow? How can I get myself to write what I am thinking in a way that I know I can rewrite it to make it use longer sentences?
     
  2. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    I don't think having short simple sentences is a bad thing. My editing often involves taking long, overly-complicated sentences and turning them into clearer and more affecting ones.

    I definitely have the same problem with editing as I go. I find it very difficult to just write 'this is what happens, this is what the characters communicate to each other, this is a bit of scenery that it occurs to me to include, it's not super finessed and some of its cheesy or cliched, but it's the basic gist'. I end up stopping and reading what I've written after every few sentences, to check where I'm at, and then I notice something that sounds awful and go and fix it, and then I fix something else, and move stuff around, then decide I liked it better before...

    Me too. Which makes me think editing-as-you-go isn't a good thing. But it's a habit I've yet to break.
     
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  3. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just my opinion, but...

    I think you're the only person who can really answer those questions... for you.

    You're actually talking about two different things here, style and stamina. If you get tired before finishing a handful of paragraphs, concentrate on just one for now. Even if you tire yourself out by the time that one paragraph is done, at least you've finished one paragraph. Do the next one tomorrow... or after a nap... or a break to do something else (walk, swim, eat, whatever).

    Very likely, if you take it one paragraph at a time, you'll see your stamina increase over time. Be patient. It'll come.
     
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  4. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Its a personal choice. I see the beauty and error in both ways (editing as you go vs. never looking back) so there is no right or wrong answer for me. I dont do major editing. I might see something on the page where I left off and i will change it a bit but its not a major edit. I keep in mind the things I want to change in my story so I can do that in the next draft. If it were mean i would edit so much that I would never actually complete the story.
     
  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm another who simply can't not edit as I write. I've tried, but I can't. I also have problems with short sentences, but find they only jump out at me the next day, with a fresh mind, which is when I fix them.

    As you say, editing as you write does have its downside, in that it tends to sap you of your enthusiasm, and I think writers like this have a much much lower daily word-count than those who can write truly rough first drafts.

    You either force yourself, or you accept it as I have.
     
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  6. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I have the exact same 'problem' - what I can offer in terms of myself: Write a scene. Let it steam for a night. In the morning, it almost always is easy to find the way to combine short sentences into longer, good ones :)

    Oh, and I write character-based. It would be impossible to go ahead if some action doesn't ring true.
     
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  7. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you're the only one who can answer the questions you pose. Do whatever works for you after experimenting a little.

    Personally, I've always edited as I go. It probably does lower my daily word count and take up time, but I imagine that that time would be spent on major reworking if I just powered through and came back.
     
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  8. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Why are you trying to stop editing as you go. I think the lucky ones are the writers who can't shut off their internal editor. I'm really confused as to why you would want to write in a way where you know you will have to do some overhauling later. When people give themselves permission to write crap, they usually write crap. Some people are fine working that way. If you know you have too many short sentences, write longer sentences. You don't have to save every problem until you're finished. In fact, you probably shouldn't do save that until the end since it seems like more of a ongoing issue you have with writing in general. I'm also a little confused about what you said about not being able to write what you're thinking. I don't understand that or why you wouldn't want to address it now so that you stop making the same mistakes and then have a big, old mess to clean up.
     
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  9. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know I've never looked at like this, but now that I have I can't imagine I'd be very comfortable or happy having to go through page after page turning crap into something decent. It would almost be like writing the novel twice.

    That's not to say I won't be doing just as many edits and re-writes as others, but still.
     
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  10. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Put the emphasis on telling the story first. The perfect turn of phrase when there is no story to tell, no interesting characters to meet, no exciting turns of plot... that is as useless to a writer as runway behind, altitude above, or fuel already burned is to a pilot. Get the story down, then apply the decoration.

    When I am in the first draft phase, I edit each paragraph when I hit the enter key for SPaG and run-on sentences... the opposite of your problem with short, choppy ones! My wife/editor likes to remind me that a paragraph should have more periods than lines of text. And also minor continuity, correct tag lines, etc. When I finish a chapter, I go back and re-read it again for flow and continuity, editing as necessary.

    Then, editing job done and on to the next chapter. I do not go back to revise my work until I have finished, with some minor exceptions. I did four or five rewrites on chapter 70 of last WIP. But that was a story/character motivation issue, not wordology. Editing is critical and in direct conflict to creativity. Be as critical as you want after you have finished it, but not before or you will never finish.
     
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  11. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can see the value in most of your opinions, but not this one. It may take us longer, but that doesn't mean we'll never finish.
     
  12. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I felt the same way you do when I first heard that giving yourself permission to write crap means you probably will. I think this saying can help people who want to write but feel too anxious to actually do it. And I think saving all the editing until a draft is done is just another way of tricking the mind to actually write and finish what they are writing. I don't have that problem. I write because I want to write. I might be kind of an anxious person when it comes to other things but not writing. I know I am going to write with or without giving myself permission to write crap. And like you said, I just have no desire to write everything all over again after I finish. I think editing as I go has taught me to be a better writer who needs less editing in general. Even if you don't edit as you go, I would suggest aiming a little higher than the bar that's set for allowing oneself to write crap.
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Writing is funny, in that everybody has a method, and not everybody uses the same method. And some methods sound great, but when you try them out, they don't work for you.

    It sounds as if editing as you go doesn't work for you. I would stop doing that and just keep writing instead. Nothing you've written will go away, so you can go back to it later. But what you're doing is what I'd call 'tinkering.' (Which some folks have compared to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. :)) Some people work well, editing as they go, but it doesn't sound like you're one of them. Editing gets you sidetracked instead, and results in a whole lot of effort wasted.

    As I said in one of the other threads you started, I think you need to focus. And the thing to focus on is finish what you start.

    Never mind that it's not perfect—or even a load of old crap. Just finish it. If an idea hits you part way through that will require changes in what you already wrote, just scribble them down AND KEEP GOING. Trust me, you will feel so powerful and good, once you've got a first draft finished. There is nothing like it. THEN is when you start to shape what you've written, change what needs changing, etc.

    There is no magic bullet for what you're struggling with. It's like anything else. If you don't like what's happening, you need to change your approach. Of course you can get yourself to avoid editing as you go. Just stop. Force yourself to move on. Be excited about where you're going, not worried about where you've been.
     
  14. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Interesting thread. I sort of do both. I write for a bit until I falter, pause, if the tap does not start to flow right off, I read what I've written and at times I will pick up some bit's and bobs as I go and correct/change them. Usually getting a run up to where I stopped gets me going again.

    If you are a Scrivener user, you may want to look at the comments feature. Here you can highlight a bit of text that you know needs work, but you don't want to get bogged down in just then, and add a comment. You can then look at all the comments you have made. When you click on one it takes you right to the passage in question. Very handy.
     
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