The Importance of Self-Editing

Today’s topic – the importance of self-editing during the writing process.

Yes, you saw that correctly!  Self -editing is not a separate entity from writing.  Really.  It’s not.

I had all kinds of aspirations to become an editor after I got my Master’s degree, and maybe one day I’ll be able to do that on a more full-time basis.  But for now, I mostly self-edit and do light copyediting while freelancing.  It’s good for the time being.  In the time I’ve been studying the editing process, however, I’ve really come to appreciate the self-edit.

I edit myself all the time.

That probably sounds silly, when worded like that.  I’ve really taken the self-editing thing to heart, though, since I took a technical editing class with my Master’s degree advisor (shout out to Dr. Nord, who is one cool cat).  Here are some of the times I catch myself self-editing:

  1. When I’m sending emails at work
  2. When I’m writing documents for work
  3. When I’m working on my novels
  4. When I’m sending emails to friends
  5. When I’m posting on Facebook
  6. When I’m blogging

I could go on, but why bother?  You get the point.  I’m editing all the time.  And that’s important.  Why?

It helps you see your work from the eyes of others.

Yes, that’s the key to a good self-edit.  You have to let the words sit for long enough for you to be able to approach them with fresh eyes.  For example, when I’m writing creatively, I have the tendency to write and write and write for several thousand words, and then not remember most of it.  So I got back after a day or so and reread, and I’m usually changing wording and phrasing and all kinds of things as I go.  I’m self-editing to make it sound more cohesive with the story.  It’s exactly what the folks over at NaNoWriMo tell you not to do during the month of writing.  But I do it anyway.

Self-editing is a way for you to take a step back and view your work subjectively.  You have to be able to feel the conflict and importance of the words as an outsider, or no one is going to read what you’ve written.

It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s very important.  When you get the chance, go back and read something that you wrote a while ago.  I bet you’d be able to self-edit it without a lot of trouble, because time has passed.  You just need to find that kind of objectivity without so much time passing.

I believe in you.  It’s all about perspective!  You can do it.  🙂

-A.

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