Writing Is A Bad Habit: Time to Edit? a.k.a. Time and Self-Editing

Okay, so we all know that it’s generally a bad idea to self-edit.  When you edit your own work, it is quite easy to let your knowledge of the story and your own intentions to color the editing job.  The human mind is a master of filling in the blanks and you’ll find missing words inserted, misspelled words corrected, and extraneous words edited out, all because YOU know what’s up.

Of course, the problem arises that, well, many of us out in Starving Authorland simply don’t have the cash to get professional editing, even if you have cheap sources for it (SHAMELESS PLUG INSERTED HERE).  So I’m going to reveal what, to me, is the secret if you find that you must self-edit.

Now, let me preface this again with the disclaimer that this may be true for ME ALONE, but I don’t think that’s the case.

With that being said, for me, time is the key.

What this means is that if I try to self-edit a piece shortly after writing it, my fresh memories make it incredibly hard to properly edit.  I miss many mistakes I made and sometimes create new problems based on my preconceptions.  Basically, I make a total mess of things!

However, if I give it some time, say a few weeks to a month, enough of those initial preconceptions fade.  While I know my core concepts and ideas, that specificity that clouds my editorial instincts evaporates.  Suddenly, I can see the misspellings, the horrid grammar, and the repetitive word choices.  It’s practically night and day in the quality difference.

So if you do find yourself forced to do your own editing (something I still don’t advise, especially if you don’t have experience and the time to look up grammar and style rules), try this technique.  Do your writing, then set it aside for a good bit of time before coming back to it.  You just might find your editing will be a hundred times better than it was before!

Got any other excellent editing tips?  Drop them off in the comments below!  Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

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