Thursday, April 25, 2013

Problem? Ask Another Writer

I belong to a writing group connected to Linked-In called Aspiring Writers. It's one where writers send a question or post a problem they are having and in a nanosecond other writers are sending comments regarding whatever the subject happens to be. I've chimed in a time or two but not often as I don't visit Aspiring Writers on a regular basis. I drift on over there when I receive an email notice that a new topic has been introduced and it happens to be one I might find of interest.

Recently, someone wrote saying she'd just finished the manuscript for a nonfiction book. The thought of rewriting it was so daunting she didn't know what to do. Bells and whistles must have gone off because she got a lot of responses regarding her dilemma.

Over and over again, other writers told her that she could not go with that first manuscript. But she also did not have to rewrite the entire thing either. Who wants to begin all over again? An edit, however, was advised by nearly every responder. Then came the sub-topic of whether you should edit as you go or write the first draft and then edit.

There was a marked division here. It seemed to come down to a personal choice. Some writers preferred to edit as they wrote while others waited until the first draft was completed. Then they went back and did a chapter by chapter edit.

My own feeling is that the editing as you go slows down the thought process. I agreed with one man who said that editing is a right brain activity and writing is left brain. He says you're better off not trying to do both at the same time. I think I agree with that assessment.

However it's done, editing your work is of prime importance. I've said it here multiple times that you should also let a first draft simmer on the back burner for days or even weeks before doing that editing. You'll see it with fresh eyes and do a far superior job.

For those of you who are members of Linked-In, you can search for Aspiring Writers and sign on if you are interested in learning the opinions and receiving advice from other writers. Linked-In has a number of groups for writers to join. I think it's fine to try one or two, but even then, spend minimal time with them because they can hinder your writing time.

None of those books in today's poster were published after only a first draft was written. Some had edits and re-edits before they landed on the printing press while others had complete revisions. If you didin't already know it, writing is hard work. But if you have a passion for it and a set of goals to achieve, it's well worth all that work.


  1. This is an excellent piece. I agree, editing while I write does not work for me. Once those creative wheels are turning I'm not going to do one thing to slow them down...sometimes that includes not going to the bathroom until my bladder nearly explodes!

    Kathy Baker

    1. I'm with you, but I think that there are people who can edit as they go. Multitaskers, for sure.

  2. Hi Nancy, I'll look up that group on Linked-In. Since I hate editing a very big job, each page seems manageable. I agree that it is probably better to do it at the end.

  3. I agree. I have learned the hard way not to rush to submission. While I may do tiny bits of editing as I write, I like to walk away from it for a while, then return with a fresh mind. Being a writer of short stories, prose, and poetry this works for me, but I can just imagine how daunting I would find the task of editing a book. Perhaps editing after each chapter would help.