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.
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.
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.
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.