Writing vs. Editing

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Ah, yes, but they’re kind of one in the same, aren’t they? Well, I’m not talking about the writing process, but the difference between banging out sentences and staring at said sentences for the fifteenth time and wondering if you should change your entire plot.

Over the last few days, I’ve thought about the differences between editing (especially final edits) and writing itself. I’ve never tried to edit something so large as a novel before, and being a perfectionist and an editor is … interesting.

For the past several years, I’ve done a ton of the simple writing part of the equation. Writing is so engaging—you’re in the characters’ heads, you’re watching how everything’s unfolding, you’re right there with them. Yeah, you have that little editor in your head who might squawk every once in a while as you’re writing along, but you’re usually not double-guessing everything. Writing a first draft is freedom. You see clear progress, and you don’t have to worry about yesterday’s work. You just keep going with the story. (Barring writer’s block and all of that fun stuff.)

Now, editing … oh my. Once you start thinking about the fact that someone will be reading this very soon, and this is one of your last chances to change this certain sentence … you’ll start going crazy. (Which I think I already had, but editing might help me lose more brain cells. 🙂 ) It’s bad when you start saying things like, “I just can’t figure out another way to show how upset my character is! She’s been sobbing for the last twenty pages!” (Yes, please feel sorry for my poor characters.) If you allow it, you’ll get down to criticizing the most minute of points and questioning everything to the point you’re overwhelmed with indecision. (This is also usually when you need to take a break. Editing is exhausting.) Prayer is also really important at this time, too – something I’m trying to get better at, but failing often. The Lord’s strength is much-needed!

Editing’s much like practicing an instrument. You’re not going to get a difficult passage perfect the first time, but you’ll practice it about a hundred times, and eventually you’ll get it. It’s a comfort to know you don’t have to get it perfect the first time, and you can keep on practicing. But there comes a point where you have to stop practicing—usually in the form of a performance.

The bad thing about writing is that you could presumably never have that “performance,” because you can keep on changing things for years, thinking it’s still not perfect.

And this is where you have to decide it’s good enough and you’ve done all you can. Your book or paper or article is never going to be perfect. You can only do your best and leave the rest in the Lord’s Hands. Realizing when you’re at this point, though, can be difficult, especially when you want to read over the scene another time. And then another, and another …

But you have to let go. And once you’ve done all you can, pry your grip off of that writing, pray, and send it out to the world. What good will it do anyone if it’s just sitting on your computer, a prisoner of your own fears?

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Psalm 127:1

What are your feelings on editing? Love it? Hate it? Both?

12 thoughts on “Writing vs. Editing

  1. Lol, this is relatable and hilarious! I just started editing my novel, and…UGGGGGGH! There’s just no other way to put it except “ugh” and maybe a dramatized groan into a pillow. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amelia,
      I totally sympathize with you! Editing is its own monster. At times, it’s nice, and then other days …. And I completely agree with your groaning into the pillow. It’s fitting. 🙂
      Thanks for reading!!

      Like

    • Joelle,
      I totally agree with you! Sometimes editing is just so hard, and at other points, writing is equally difficult. I think writing takes more creative juices, if you know what I mean, and with editing (unless you’re doing massive plot changes, etc.), can be more just combing through and trying to work on a lot of little problems. Which can be frustrating, too. 🙂 But it’s so worth the struggle!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!

      Like

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