Edit. Procrastinate. Edit. part 1

photo of my cat, Snowflake - the ultimate procrastination role model

Snowflake has procrastination down to a fine art.

If there’s one thing that  drives me to procrastinate, it’s editing. It can even drive me to write another blog entry. Oh yes, I really should be editing that last piece, but first I’ll need a cup of coffee, then I’ll just start a load of washing, and I’d better check my email… You get the idea.

When I first started writing, I thought editing was about correcting spelling and grammar errors.  But no, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. A very small tip, one that will fit in my cup of iced coffee.

Writing the story is the fun part. Some writers, including me, talk about turning off our “internal editor”. For me, (I won’t try to speak for other writers) that’s the part of my brain that wants to make every sentence perfect the first time I write it. One skill I got out of completing NaNoWriMo was learning to turn down the inner editor’s voice. She’s allowed to add notes (“need better verb”, “more description”) but otherwise I know that if I let her interfere, I’ll get bogged down in one sentence and I won’t finish the story.

I love that feeling I get after finishing a first draft. I just want to submit it right away. But now I know better. I send it to my first reader, who happens to be my mother. I recommend recruiting a first reader, someone to read that first draft. Preferably this would be someone who loves you unconditionally (just in case the story is complete cr*p), who will agree with how absolutely wonderful you think it is. Once your ego is soothed, put that story aside for at least a few days.

Why not start editing that first draft right away? Because at this point I’m in love with that story. It’s my baby. I don’t have the perspective I need to see its flaws from the point of view of an editor, or even a savvy reader. I have a couple stories that I think – from my admittedly biased point of view – would have been good candidates for particular markets. But I blew it because I submitted them before they were ready.

(To be continued)

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