As writers we are told over and over again to edit and edit and oh, wait, edit some more. I don’t know about you but I don’t remember ever being taught how to edit. Maybe it was hidden or concealed in some Language Arts class or maybe it was during one of the college classes I missed. I just know that when I am told to edit or have a peer edit my paper I scratch my head and think “What exactly does my teacher/professor mean when s/he says to edit?” Webster states editing as: “to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose” but that definition wasn’t the first definition. If you look here then you will see that to edit means to simply prepare something (in writing) to be published or used. Which means that every single piece of writing we create, read, ignore, or stare blankly at has been edited even if the author didn’t consciously edit it.
As humans we constantly edit what we do, how we act, and what we say among other things. We edit our lives when we choose soy milk over whole milk. We alter our life path when we choose to go to subway instead of McDonald’s. These examples are all well and good but what exactly does it have to do with becoming a better writer? Well, just like we have to make a conscious choice to live a healthier lifestyle so too do we have to choose to become better writers.
How does one do that? Simply put, you have to exercise muscles that have languished in society of late. The muscles of will power. The old saying “Where there is a will, there is a way comes to mind.” Now that I have provided you with a premise to this post I want to invite you to join in actively thinking about what I am about to write.
Types of Self Editing:
There are two many categories:
As Conscious editing might imply this is editing that you do consciously. The main forms of these are writing your work and then going back through and rereading it. This form of writing also includes the writers who write a sentence, pause and then edit it before going on to the next one. If you break down conscious editing a bit more you find that there are two branches of editing. Immediate and Reflective.
Immediate editing is where the writer pauses, checks the sentence and then adjusts while thinking forward. This is used in high paced situations and while effective it is more prone to errors. Read newspaper articles as well as sportscasts and other forms of writings that have an immediacy to them and this is the kind of editing you will find.
Reflective editing is where a writer writes what they want and then leaves the piece of writing alone for a span of more than 20 minutes. Sure, this type of editing can still be used by media outlets but it is most commonly used for poetry, fiction and nonfiction works as well as for informative essays, articles and the like. Reflective editing is the type of editing that provides the best opportunity for making the most out of what you wrote. Remember that when a teacher/professor says to edit your paper they are most likely talking about this type of editing.
In both types of conscious editing there are words that are put down on paper or typed. The main thing to remember is that the words have to exist before they can be edited.
Subconscious editing is a whole other beast. Many times people use this type of editing without even knowing it. Although this type of editing has several variations for the sake of time I will stick to talking about this as a whole. This type of editing involves writing and rewriting scenes, thoughts, ideas, etc. Within the mind. My favorite time to write is why I much stalls. Although I am unable to jot down my thoughts I am able to pull them out and expand upon them peace by peace. This type of editing is where you get improv from as well as some music lyrics. This type of editing thrives on thinkers and it is important to remember that these are broad labeling for a complex process.
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Do you dream of being a write but aren’t sure how? If so contact me and I will help you figure out what works best for you.