Creative Series II: The Importance of Editing Your Work

I had the opportunity to talk to my mentor Bill Guthrie about editing  last week.

I asked Bill how important it is to edit your own work. Bill’s response was akin to that of a writer who just gave him a stupid question. He didn’t come out and respond with that kind of tone, but he reiterated how important it is to get more than one set of eyes on your written work, if possible. Bill continued to state how important it is for a writer, in fact anyone writing alone, to proofread their work after they have finished with the editing process. Please notice that I have provided many different links (one after the other from a Google search) that focus on the writing process.

Editing is all about accuracy.

What does accuracy really mean during this process? Well, many schools and organizations focus on steps involved in writing. In one of my previous posts, I included a video excerpt from “Finding Forrester“. The character Forrester (I personally felt), advises his apprentice (Rob Brown as “Jamal Wallace” who did a brilliant job in playing the part) to simply start typing. The technique that Forrester displays is one that has been used by many teachers and mentors for ages.

With so many sources to access for help on writing or editing, which one is correct?

I have been using Writer’s Digest as my major source of information, tips and advice for decades. If you don’t know anything about Writer’s Digest, you’ll find that the organization has been around for more than 90 years. I took a photo that illustrates part of my writing library, that has survived thousands of miles of travel.

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Over half of the books that I own, were due to the influence that Writer’s Digest had on me over 30 years ago. I still use every one of those books that you see on that shelf to this day. I use those books as a reference point during my editing process. Yes, that includes “Star Trek and Philosophy“. I use Elements of Style as my Bible. In fact, it (Elements of Style) has been made readily available online by Bartleby.com as a resource form (I personally prefer having the book.) I just purchased the Elements of Editing by Arthur Plotnik for the fourth time, last week. (I noticed that I had pages missing and the cover had become ripped and torn). I, for example, like to have a period outside parentheses, simply because it looks aesthetically correct to me.

Editing takes a lot of focus.

I prefer the quiet of my office when I am editing. It allows me to not only think about what I have written, but also to exchange ideas with my wife who has a degree in journalism. Unlike many writers, I have had the luxury of consulting a “live-in” editor. Her willing (and unwilling) assistance, being my “second set of eyes” has become invaluable to me over the decades.

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I hope that this short blog post might help you in your editing process.

Editing is your vision. This process goes hand-in-hand with other processes when you are writing. This process in not necessary when you are in your first draft stage. Yet, you and I see countless examples of profesional writers who are obviously blindly posting a first draft they have composed every day.

Perhaps the art of writing is locked into the mechanics of editing.

It is part of learning how to clearly impart our thoughts into understandable, intelligible prose. We as humans often find ourselves as “chaotic creatives“. First, the idea occurs within countless other conclusions. If you don’t believe me, search your thoughts right now. If your thinking lines up into logical, harmonious thought that occurs in a linear fashion to a logical conclusion, then how are you arriving at your conclusion? When you dream, are you dreaming in a logical, progressive order? Or are your dreams more random in nature? I don’t want to get locked up into a psychological or psychiatric diatribe about your thought processes over mine. I DO want to express how editing within the context of writing follows a process-driven methodology. It (editing) is mechanical, opposed to writing, which (at first) may not be mechanical. What is important, is that following the editing process in writing is a good guarantee that what you write will make sense and that your creative ability as a writer can be aligned into prose that blooms like a rose in spring.

Next in the series: The Importance of Grammar.

“Making it”, Creatively

(Note: I am posting this now, since I noticed that three people have already viewed the blog, obviously to see what new material I have posted today. Unfortunately, I was working at the bookstore all day today. I know, I know…that is NO excuse. So, I am posting this excerpt from my old blog right now. I will still post my new material on editing today. I am also in talks with my mentor (Bill Guthrie), to begin adding fresh material about writing very soon to this blog, UNDER HIS NAME. Bill was a journalist for over 40 years. At one point in his career, he was one of the editors of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Bill is expecting to release his new book, “The Boy Who Met the Babe” very soon. When that occurs, I would like to focus on other material that I have been just itching to discuss.) In the meantime, this excerpt was when I was hosting a writing group, here in Las Vegas, almost 6 years ago. I have gone to the trouble to add links to this post that you can follow, that were not part of the original work, so many years ago. I personally recommend that you follow the links that I have provided, in that many of them are excellent references for creative intellectuals that many of us chose as mentors long ago. The other sites that I linked, I felt are pretty darn cool, when looking for insight into hobbies or future creative businesses that you may be interested in pursuing one day.

Survival as a Creative Soul

The Tough Reality of Creativity

Since the time of Renoir and Plato, it’s been tough to get a job as a creative individual.

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It takes a lot of belief in yourself, and your ability to weather homelessness, poverty, and even loneliness while you market your wares as an artist.  It makes no difference whether you are a photographer, writer, painter, dancer, podcaster, singer, actor, actress, or whatever.  Life is tough if you are determined to chase your creative side.  You must have income (either stashed away, or established as retirement) to support yourself or you will go hungry.

The bottom line is: How far you are willing to look to find your muse?

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Are you good enough to find your niche as a writer, singer, dancer, actor, etc.?  That is the question, isn’t it?  Are you good enough?  I meet very talented people every day.  Some decide only to pursue their talent as a hobby, others finally give in to the storm of emotion that wells up from their heart to make the change from average working stiff to artist.

We all have our reasons.

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I am so very proud to say that our very own Darcy is now actively writing for Suite 101, and getting paid for her efforts, while still pursuing other lucrative writing assignments.  Stan is also getting his next poetry book published by a publisher — perhaps as a textbook.  I myself, am now involved in talking to an agent regarding my forthcoming series, which could be very lucrative for me as well.  But, only time will tell.

I have two quotes in closing.

5The first from Pierre-Auguste Renoir himself, “The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself and carry you away. It is how the artist conveys his passion. It is the current which he puts forth, which sweeps you along in his passion.” The second from Isaac Asimov, “I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die. “ If life is your art, then live it until you can’t.