Jan 29

Mischa Eliot

Edit So You Won’t Regret It

Everyone makes mistakes. No, really, even me. I make mistakes. There, I admitted it. It will probably never happen again. When you get that rush of a story in your head and all you can do is type furiously, or handwrite if you prefer that (I get hand cramps like you wouldn’t believe after mainly typing for 20+ years), to get it all out before BOOM, it’s gone. Sometimes it works that way, other times you have to build it up. You had an idea, or three, and you write a little here write a little there. Personally, I prefer the mad-dash. Get it all out onto the paper before it crashes in a ball of flames.

Then, when it’s all said and done, you get to read it. Sometimes, there’s a feeling ‘OOOH, I got this!’ and then other times you want to take a giant red permanent marker and make it look like the CIA redacted 98% of what you wrote. There’s always a golden tidbit in drivel, though, remember that. It might not be a coherent sentence, either. It could be a phrase from this paragraph goes really good with description over here and bam, new story.

I try to write or edit every single day. And since I type everything that means I am staring at screens from the time I am sipping my morning coffee until I go to bed at night, minus the driving time in between because that could result in crashes and screams (that’s bad, people, very bad). Anyway, out of the 16 hours I am awake, I would say at the minimum I am staring at screens for 12. There are those days I go to the gym or the grocery store, or wander the mall aimlessly window-shopping and hoping to find something really cute on extreme sale. However, I would prefer to be writing.

A Coworker asked me something along the lines of ‘what would you rather be doing than be here?” and I replied, teasingly at first, “I can’t answer that question… ” and of course, he got the naughty joke, laughed and said ‘You’re right, you probably can’t.” and of course, then I went on to say “I’d rather be writing.” So, here I am. Trying to get some time in here. Yes, I am sort of rambling. Anyway, Editing is Your Friend.

Write furiously. Write gorgeously. But, more important than anything else, go back and read it. Edit it like that damn high school English teacher you were so thrilled accepted you into their class and then nitpicked everything you wrote to pieces is going to be grading you on it.

Edit your work. Then revise it. Keep writing and reading. I have also read the advice, and even told people this advice, that they should read their work aloud. Do they listen? Of course not. Do I listen? I will mumble it to myself, but I won’t read it completely out loud.

So, it doesn’t matter how much you write. It really does not. You could write one million words a year and it would not matter. If you aren’t editing that writing, if you aren’t poring over it and fixing those mistakes, circling with that big fat red marker, then what does it matter?

Yes, this is a rambling post. I’m allowed to ramble now and then. So are you. I write and edit and revise. Sometimes one word works better than a phrase. Sometimes flipping the sentence structure around runs more smoothly than the other way. There are so many ways to write. However, you just need to write. A journal, a blog post, the next great universal novel. And then you need to edit. Which is what I’m going to do right now.

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