Editing is one of those writer’s necessities, in fact, it’s probably what a writer will spend most of his or her time on. It’s also probably one of the most disheartening processes of writing itself. I know it is for me. I’ll come upon a particular event in the piece that I loved writing, absolutely loved, and I loved what I had written. Yet, I’ll come back around to it later on in the editing process and I’ll have a look at it and it’s a mess.
Not only has my meaning become tangled and garbled in this overlong mess of sentences, but what I could’ve said would’ve taken so much less time than this ridiculous, rambling description or paragraph that I’ve come up with instead.
I know I’m not the only one to do this, far from it, in fact. I’m also sure I’m not the only writer to beat themselves up over the obviousness of the errors I’m making, sometimes in the technical aspect, sometimes a major inconsistency, or just something in the particular piece you’re writing feels “wrong”. Don’t beat yourself up, all that does is take away your self-confidence.
The only thing that must be done is fix what’s in front of you.
Editing isn’t an easy thing, I don’t mean to make it sound as if it is because it’s far from it. Somethings are easy, usually the technical side of things (commas, periods, dropped words etc), but other things, like figuring out if something is necessary to the overall piece, can be difficult, especially if the writer is self-editing. The best that can be done is to use your intuition. If there is doubt, chances are, it needs to be cut.
First drafts are almost always terrible. It’s a fact of writing. The only thing that you can do is cut, re-arrange, or delete the passage all together. The last bit is difficult, I know. A writer’s word count is precious, and to touch it is a bit like wounding pride, but which would you rather have, a piece with a bunch of words that would turn someone off because of how poorly worded something is, or a piece with a shorter word count that feels concise, clean, and will satisfy who ever maybe reading it?
I think you know the answer.
Another piece of Advice:
If you’re using your computer to write, before editing, make sure to make a copy of the file (Right Click and Select Copy), and put that copy of the file on your desktop and use which ever file to do your editing, so if you feel you’ve gone too far, you always have a back up saved.
It would also be wise to save copies of all your work on a Flash Drive.
Sites I recommend: