Ten Things Writers Need To Do Before Editing

  1. Ensure that there’s an actual manuscript to edit. The book in one’s mind  and imagination doesn’t count. The one on paper or saved in a computer hard drive does.
  2. Owning a copy of Strunk & White’s The Element’s of Style is a prerequisite to the job of editing. If you don’t have one, get one. Now. Before you read the rest of this blog.
  3. As well as S&W, a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing should be ever-present on your writing desk. Follow The King and you won’t go far wrong.
  4. Ensure enough time has passed between completing your manuscript and starting the editing process. A month or so should suffice. Any longer and you’re being lazy. I should know. I’m the lazy one.
  5. Read up on your chosen genre. Get tips from your favourite writers. Even better, get tips from your favourite writer friends.
  6. Make a deadline and stick to it. Procrastination works only in plays by Shakespeare. To write or not to write. To edit or not to edit. It’s a no-brainer really.
  7. Stock up on your favourite legal drug of choice; i.e, caffeine, chocolate, cigarettes (filthy habit) or gobstoppers.
  8. Play your favourite music if that’s your thing. I prefer silence when I’m writing and editing my novel and stories. But when I blog, a little music gets my juices flowing.
  9. Have a plan of action. Rushing in wearing hob-nail boots and causing untold mayhem will only result in an unreadable “masterpiece” (which is fine if you want to be postmodern) and a shattered confidence in one’s ability.
  10. Most important, this one. Run out of excuses not to edit. I did – and now I’m editing.

Good luck!

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5 responses to “Ten Things Writers Need To Do Before Editing

  1. On Writing and Elements of Style are essential! I enjoyed reading your post.
    -Josh

  2. I’ll do it in a while, first a sandwich …

  3. I’m with Cindy, and where’s is that blasted red pencil, anyway? 😀

    BTW, in addition to “On Writing,” I suggest that ALL WRITERS, actually, all artists of any stripe, should have Anne Lamotte’s extraordinary book “Bird by Bird” very high on their reading list, certainly as high as Mr. King’s. She gives remarkably sane advice, and is stimulating as well as comforting. As a matter of fact, I unreservedly recommend every single word that has ever come from her pen or computer! She writes fiction as well as some of the most touching and FUNNY memoirs and essays ever. She is a frequent contributor to “Slate,” so some of you may be familiar with her. Anyway, if you haven’t read her work, then get yourself to the library or bookstore!

  4. Good luck with the editing, JM.
    I avoid the editing process by refusing to finish any of my novels. ; )

    Fully agree that Strunk and White provide excellent advice.

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