My Editing Process: Editing While Drafting

Way back in the olden days when I was a young writer, I had no editing process. I would go over and over a chapter until I thought it was perfect. Only then would I allow myself to move on. Editing? That was for writers who didn't know what they were doing.

I'll pause here so you can get your laughing under control.

When I started seriously writing again, four years ago, everything changed. I embraced everything about editing. Just getting the words down.

In this first of a three part series about my editing process, I'll talk about that initial editing. While I'm still getting the words down, I tend to read over what I'd done previously. Not the entire book, but the previous chapter. I'll only read more if it's been several days between writing.

I tend to write rough. With all of my hang-ups on full display. I've gotten better and spotting and deleting all those ands, buts, wells and other annoying junk words. Some still slip through the cracks.

I will also go back and edit if things change in the story. Or if something in chapter twenty needs to be reflected on back in chapter five. I tend to be a bit of a panster. Sometimes I operate with a rough outline, but sometimes not. This means I'll sometimes discover an aspect of a character or the plot in a later chapter. I'll go back and edit those details in while I'm thinking about it.

I tend to stay linear in those early drafts. I don't dwell too much on what's down. Otherwise I may never carry on with my forward momentum. I tend to draft fast. Quickest I've ever gotten a first draft down is two weeks. I wouldn't advise doing that. I tend to average 1-2 months for a first draft. I guess I'm lucky. I write fast. Of course I have days where the words fight me. When writing is like climbing Mt. Fiji with the tips of my fingers. Those days I may go back and do a little editing, in hopes of it pushing me forward.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But I keep getting the words down regardless. When the draft is done, I don't open the file for at least two weeks. Sometimes I'll go longer. If I know there are lots of small issues to fix, I may want the time away to mull them over. Other times, it'll be two weeks on the dot. That time away from the draft is important.

In the next part of the series, I'll talk about what I do when that waiting period is over.