Writing Rage: Editing Your Own Work

I am terrible at editing my own work. After putting in a bit of research myself I have compiled a list of things that you can try when you find yourself in an editing bind. Efforts, that I will also be taking myself.

You’re all thinking it so I may as well come out and say it: I am terrible at editing my own work. I hate it. This is not to say that I am a terrible editor in general, I just have not practised enough patience or more often, found the time for editing my own work. I think many of you understand the efforts that go into researching and writing something from scratch. You put in all that time and effort and the last thing that you want to do at the end of it all is re-read it and fuss over it more, especially on a deadline. You also end up having a stupid amount of pride in your efforts and are reluctant to change that. But as many of you also know, editing is an essential step in the writing process and that editing can make or break a good piece of writing.

After putting in a bit of research myself I have compiled a list of things that you can try when you find yourself in an editing bind. Efforts, that I will also be taking myself:

1) Print it out

This may sound like a mega pain in the ass but it is an essential step. It is always better to have another person edit your work because they are able to bring in a new perspective however, this is not always possible.  You need to try and recreate the fresh perspective a new set of eyes brings and printing out your work is one way of accomplishing that.

2) Use an app like Grammarly

Sure spell-check is great but it misses most grammatical issues. Grammarly is a free resource that catches what spell-check misses. It is a great way to speed up your editing process. Hey, you still need to use your eyes though! Don’t expect an app to be fool proof and make up for real formal editing.

3) Edit for content and structure first

If you hate editing as much as I do then you want it to be over as fast as possible. Don’t waste time perfecting your sentences and then end up chopping it off when you edit for content. Make your work concise first and then polish.

4) Take a break, if you have time

You are in a rush don’t bother with this and just skip to the next step. If you have planned things appropriately (which, in my case doesn’t happen all that often) and you are not in any immediate rush, this step can help you immensely. Like printing out your work, this step can help provide a fresh perspective on your piece as well as fresh eyes to catch things that you may have missed after focusing on your work for so long.

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5) Read Aloud

If you do not have time to take a break from your work, this is a sufficient and effective method, especially for syntax. Speak naturally,  then add or remove areas that don’t make senses to you and shorten sentences that you ramble in. Additionally, you can also try and envision that you are reading before your intended audience and imagine what their reactions might be to further help in being concise.

6) Be a Bastard

A fantastically edited piece usually has numerous bastard editors dissect it. When you are editing your own work, that bastard needs to be you. It might mean chopping away little parts of your soul while you do it but it will be worth it in the end. Who needs a soul anyway, right? Being ruthless in your own editing is by no means easy but it is a necessary evil.

Here are few things to consider when you’re being a bastard editor:

Cut 10% of your words. As writer’s we are a bunch of blabber mouths and we can all benefit from being more concise. Don’t repeat yourself. For example, if you wrote 800 words, try cutting it back to 720.

Cut back on adverbs. Anything that has a -ly at the end can be reduced. I am very guilty in having too many adverbs in my work. These words are excessive and can make you sound wishy-washy.

Let it go. Let it goooooo, let it goooooo!”  Ha, any Frozen fans out there? No? Okay, well my mom thinks I’m funny. But in all seriousness, you have to stop editing eventually. Many of us writers aspire for perfection either out of compulsion or a deep-seated fear of rejection or criticism. Additionally, because we lose our souls to editing we get stuck in an endless dark hole of self-doubt and can’t seem to let a piece go when it needs to be. So put in the editing effort and walk away when it’s time and if you’re never sure when that is, go through you editing steps and then set a timer.

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Writer Rage: Inconsiderate Editors

I have a lot of respect for editors and the work that they do, but my god they can be frustrating sometimes.

I have a lot of respect for editors and the work that they do. It is a very busy job that requires a lot of organization and communication. So when an editor doesn’t get back to me right away, I am very lenient. However, there is a limit to my patience, especially when I have already provided them with a service of my own work.

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I am or was supposed to be published again. This particular editor was excited for my ideas and even hoped that I might write more for this particular magazine. I have worked with this editor before and knew that it might take a while for his replies. I wrote the article and sent it off, he acknowledged that he had received it and since then I have not heard one bloody word. I followed up numerous times, giving each reply a few weeks time for this editor to reply. Absolutely nothing and it has been months. I finally gave up.  Now I don’t know if they plan on using my article or not and whether or not I should offer it up to other magazines.

If the editor doesn’t like my work then he should just say so. As writer, I have tough skin when it comes to rejection. This all in out non-communication is rude and disrespectful. I put a lot of time into my writing so I feel that is the least someone could do. I don’t have the luxury of being able to pick up the phone can call this editor either as I don’t live in the same country, though it has been tempting to leave a message during off hours even if it means long distance charges. It is a good thing I am not doing this to make a living at the moment or this sort of situation would be devastating. It is this sort of scenario, among other things, that makes me reconsider writing for magazines.

All in all, finding and creating writing work is really fucking hard. I wish that editors would appreciate that.

Oh Snap! Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you for following and reading my work over the past few years. It may not be much in the scope of other blogs but it means a lot to me.

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Thank you. Thank you for following and reading my work over the past few years. I am proud to say that I now I have over 100 followers on WordPress. It may not be much in the scope of other blogs but it means a lot to me.

Ever since I learned how to write it as become an innate part of me and something I have always done, regardless of whether or not I was any good at it, so having people follow my work is pretty damn amazing.

Starting this blog has been an amazing outlet for me to write and discuss things that I am passionate about. It also lead to my to being to pursuit of my dream of becoming a writer and stepping out into the right direction.

My goals going forward are to create some more innovative pieces outside of the scope of book reviews and to continue to be published elsewhere.