Editing -- Break out those colorful pens (A-Z blog)

Ah editing...the cruelest part of the writing process...necessary evil...so very necessary and so very evil.

When I am writing, the critics in my head go out to do whatever it is that critics do -- they get a bad rap, but I like to think they are at a spa or retreat or something and not out kicking puppies or throwing rocks at baby birds. All I know for sure, is when I am writing the first draft, the critics are blissfully quiet or not present at all.

I don't edit until I finish a draft. (I do not believe in the edit-as-you-go philosophy as I have never really gotten anywhere in stop-and-go traffic and the same applies for writing.) I like to have the draft "done" (and it is in quotes because it's really just "done" for now). I finish a draft and then I put it away. (Ideally I only put it away for a weekend or week, sadly I have some drafts which have been put away for years). I let the idea marinate, rest, percolate, settle, stew, or whatever cooking metaphor you would like to use...I don't cook personally, but I do watch cooking shows constantly...

So when it is time to edit, I invite the critics to come in and have a seat (it's in my head, so there is lots of room). And then we grab our colorful pens and look at the draft. (This is no longer a factor as I teach online, but I used to only use green pens when I graded because red is reportedly damaging to the psyche). But now I grab any of my plethora of colorful pens so they will contrast to the black and white of the draft. The critics and I go through, and word by word, line by line, chapter by chapter, we make changes -- adding this, questioning that, taking this out completely.

My first drafts are handwritten and as I am reading and editing the typed draft, I am sometimes surprised at what I wrote because when the writing time is at its best, I am merely a secretary trying to get the scene down, trying to just keep us as my characters act out the scenes in my head.

Then my critics help me clean it up and make the 2nd draft so much better than the 1st...and no, I don't catch every error or mistake in the editing phase, but I do make it a stronger draft and I do get it ready for its next phase.