Writing Wednesday: Editing the First Draft

Ah the joys of editing.

Please excuse me while I slam my head into my desk a few more times.

As much as I hate editing, I keep finding myself in a place where I enjoy it. As an introspective person, it’s like doing a self-check. Am I doing the best I can? Where can I improve and strengthen? Also, it’s just me editing. Being edited can be infinitely more painful. I scribbled a few notes a couple of weeks ago and found very quickly that the writing I put in those random thoughts was complete worlds above what I’d been writing into the first draft of the Half-Life series. I paused all forward progress and printed a full copy to edit.

I know the level of writing I’m capable of and I want to reach that and push myself beyond where I am so I can be even better. Seeing what I’d done in the first few chapters made me cringe so hard. Not only was the writing decidedly sub-par, but I found that I have new word addictions.

When I wrote the Salvation Triad, I found a list of four words. I spent hours editing those out wherever possible. That, so, as, and like were spread throughout every page. The effort of fixing the overuse of those words cured me of them, if I’m paying attention to what I wrote. Similarly, I’ve overcome “hands” and “collarbones.”

Yay me! Overcoming bad habits!

Sure thing.

Now I find new words. Among them, murmured. Dear gods above and below save me from murmuring. Streams, wind, people, and for all I know, the freaking stone walls in the house are murmuring. I’ve never been so relieved to have both my physical thesaurus and the online version. What WAS I thinking????

Ah well. At least I didn’t try to publish without even revising my own draft?

As for the language use being so far below normal, I’m giving myself a far amount of slack there. When I started the story I was dealing with collapsing discs in my neck. That I wrote anything is miraculous.

This is a good time to make changes and step up the story though. We’re right before the heavy action will begin. I don’t want to stop writing the next few chapters to do edits until I’m through it. If I do, I’ll end up getting stuck in the cycle of self-editing, self-doubt, and failing to make progress.

Just one tip for other authors. Don’t use red pens to edit. Do it in blue, green, black, orange, whatever, just not red. We’re conditioned to see red ink on a page and feel worse. I use green as it’s easily located and I have positive correlations with the color.Try it for yourself!

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