Wednesday, February 27, 2013

STOP Editing as You Go

I edit my writing before I let anyone else see it. The problem develops when I edit too soon.  

Editing as I write kills my enthusiasm and stops my momentum. I gently remind myself to get all my thoughts down first — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don’t stop to rework or rewrite until after I take a break.

When I feel the urge to edit as I’m writing, I remind myself to STOP!

For me this means:

S – Set an intention to write for a specific period of time, maybe 15 minutes. I can keep writing when my timer goes off if I’m in the flow.

T – Tell myself that mistakes are good. Keep going! I can fix them in the next draft. I sometimes find that a “mistake” has led me in a new direction.  

O – Open my mind and let my emotions come through. Feelings and stories are more compelling than facts and figures. Emotions matter in any genre. I can fill in the details or statistics in the next draft.

P – Play with others. Collaborations can be a powerful way to expand on a subject through a variety of perspectives and writing styles.

If premature editing is a challenge for you, I propose an experiment.

My friend, Christian, is experimenting with a 25-day writing project where he writes one page a day. Each day continues the story from the day before, but he isn’t editing any of his writing until the end of the 25 days. No outlines. No preconceived concept of where his story will go. It’s an experiment.

Or your experiment can be writing morning pages—something Julia Cameron recommends in The Artist’s Way. Morning pages are three pages, written first thing in the morning in longhand. They can be about anything—or about nothing in particular. This writing exercise can prime the pump to get your creative juices flowing for the day.
Maybe it’s an experiment of tapping into your intuitive brain by writing a question with your right hand and writing the answer with your left. (Vice versa if your dominant hand is your left.)

Experiment with a collaborative writing project where you pick a central theme and all your collaborators write a certain number of words on topics around that theme. Several of my books have been created this way. My new book that launched in January, The 28-Day Thought Diet, has 25 co-authors.  

Be willing to STOP, experiment, and THEN edit. Let your mind go and your ink flow! 


Vanessa Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to support book authors who are self publishing. Her books, including The 28-Day Thought Diet, are available on Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Vanessa,
    Will you cross-stitch for me to hang above my computer: "I can fill in the details or statistics in the next draft."

    (Or I'll just put it on a Post-It note. But THANK YOU, you may have saved me hours of distraction time!)