Creative minds are rarely neat...

Writing vs. Editing: Leaving Your Comfort Zone

In my novel writing class, we have been talking a little bit about the writer vs. the editor. Do you edit while you write or write it all out and work the rest out later?

While I have always loved creative writing, my inner editor has forever been right there on the journey, too. I even got my start in ‘freelance’ (if it could be called that) editing in high school.

Editing has always been my fallback mechanism. If I don’t want to write – as it’s always a matter of want rather than ability – then I’ve always gravitated towards editing. While that is a good thing in one view, it’s actually a procrastination technique that many new writers use to avoid writing.

With editing, you’re not putting your heart on the line. When you’re writing, you are.

That’s not to say you don’t take risks with editing. There is always the risk that you could edit the wrong person’s manuscript and get an earful (or worse) because of it. Or, when editing your own work, you run the risk of getting caught in perpetual revisions that ‘protect’ you from taking the risk of moving on with your own work.

Pay attention to when the editor comes calling.

Does s/he attack you most viciously when you’re just starting? Then ask yourself what about starting a new story is scary. Are you afraid to fail? Do you compare yourself to other authors in your genre?

My editor rears her head when I’m in the middle. She tells me about how boring my writing is. Sometimes it’s more just questions about how I think I’m going to resolve all the messes I have been creating.

Or perhaps it’s the end. Does the thought of wrapping everything up together intimidate you? Do you think you can’t do it? Or is it just hard to bring everything you have created to a close and you’re not ready to let things go?

The thing to remember about your editor intruding on your writing space is that your editor is not a bad thing; s/he just needs to learn that there is a time and place. The time and place for your editor is not while you are writing.

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