On Editing Your Writing

Editing writing is something I absolutely abhor. Know this now if you plan to read anything I write ever.

Snarky remark: Editing is the job of people with English degrees. I don’t have one. So I am not going to waste my time justifying four year and lots of money.

Editing serves one purpose in writing, procrastination. Are you afraid to move forward with your writing? Are you stuck? Are you too insecure to share? Revise.

Revision and editing are just the process of going over and over the same old stuff. It’s kind of like ruminating. Kind of exactly like ruminating. Now I could cite a few actual scientific studies highlighting how ruminating is not good for your mental and possibly physical health but that would require me to open up another tab and Google because I no longer have access to the journals I had access to in college. So trust me on this. Rumination is bad for you normally. Trust me, I took a psychology class.

I think I have given you enough hard evidence to keep you from ever editing again. But just in case I will throw in a personal example for that warm and fuzzy we know each other feeling category. In college I never revised unless my grade depended upon me actually showing multiple drafts and “substantial revision and growth.” Any other time I wrote one draft, pressed the spelling and grammar button in word, and submitted. And I had a solid B+ GPA by graduation. I have heard that getting a B+ is easy but an A is a trial. Well, I had friends and a life and watched all the TV I wanted and I got a decent job so I don’t regret not sacrificing for the A one bit. Trust me, I’ve got a blog online. I’m the definition of a credible source if you are unsure what definition means.

I am not saying don’t eventually edit. Press the spell checker button. Fix the red and green. Move a few paragraphs. Delete some lines. Read it aloud once and fix it so that it basically works. And then be done with it. Unless you are writing under some destroyer of heart and passion that docks you for every mistake. Then either get out of there or take my sincere apologies on your situation.

Now that we have discussed what is good for our well being let’s talk about why we might choose to do something like edit. It is most likely that you are avoiding moving forward. Not to be a calendar quote but don’t waste your future living the past. If you are anything like me you sometimes look towards the future with fear and a hollow in your stomach that makes you curl up in a ball to pass the sleepless hours. But this isn’t the gaping expanse of our lives stretching into the unknown with what little guide being the recent news that we have officially passed the point of no return with the glaciers. This is writing. It might feel like a big deal but unless your life depends on it or your livelihood is at stake then you are writing for grades (I go on about good reasons for writing in other places) or for pleasure. If you are writing for grades then the end is hopefully in sight. If for pleasure, then I highly suggest you finish something. It is a thrill.

But instead you go back and nitpick over one word. If you just got that one word right then you could move forward. Just keep in mind, it will never be perfect. That is what reprints and edited editions are for. Just get to the end and then worry about making it more than your stream of consciousness recorded.


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