Up until recently, editing for me was a process tinged with a feeling of “losing something” or of being a “bad writer,” especially when it came to cutting out more than half of my book.
I started thinking about how I feel while reading different books, blog posts, and articles.
There are some pieces of writing that make me want to run out and buy every book the author wrote, read or recommended. There are other pieces that lead me to feel foggy and confused, perhaps even before I’ve gotten all the way through them.
Which Writers Keep You Coming Back For More?
For me, it is not about genre or even content. It is about the writer’s ability to seamlessly take over my world. Their sentences go down smooth and easy. There is nothing out of place, nothing that demands extra effort. I am reading a finished product and yet I feel that I am just breathing, or walking into a room of my home that I never noticed. The hours of editing are invisible because they were successful.
The desirable writer is using more of their time in order to respect mine.
Every useless sentence that I cut from my book is another moment of someone’s life that I am refusing to waste. The reader is trusting me to distill the good stuff, and my goal is to not let them down.
Coming To Terms
This is the hard part. If I want to make editing decisions based on the integrity of my writing and my reader’s time and energy, then there are a lot of mistaken notions to let go of. Some of them include:
- I wasted my time writing this whole draft.
- I am a crappy writer because, well, look at all this stuff I have to cut out!
- This is nuts and I should keep it all because every sentence is valuable and the editing is making it worse.
- At this rate, I will actually just never finish. Ever.
I know that these things are not true. In fact, it may even become easier to move forward with my book because now I have in my hand the knife that can chisel away at those useless sentences and cut the brilliant designs into the ones I do choose to keep.
My readers are important. I intend to respect their time just as much as I am respecting my words and experiences.
Is Editing Harder For Me Than For Others?
Maybe one part of the underlying cause for this issue is the fact that reading good writing feels like reading easy writing. “You make it look so easy!” is the phrase often said to those who have actually put thousands of hours of effort into their craft; whether it is writing, biking, running, spinning fire poi, or anything else.
We spend our lives reading good writing, thinking that the authors just spilled it out on the first try. It seems logical that our writing should be just as easy to create; just as effortless as we perceive theirs to be. In doing this, we are attempting to live in a fantasy world. Of course, we are writers, and living in our fantasy world is precisely what we are good at! But in this case, perhaps we are best off fessing up to reality. We can extract the most powerful components from our work and leave the rest behind so that we may inspire other potential writers to think it is easy and join us in this world where magic tricks are performed in the shadows of every paragraph.
All arts, big and small, are the elimination of waste motion in favor of the concise declaration.” – Ray Bradbury
What kind of writing keeps you coming back for more?
Do you have mistaken notions to let go of concerning editing for your blog or book?
How has your idea of editing changed throughout the course of working on your writing?
I am curious!