Why Editing Sucks Butt

Illustration depicting graffiti on a brick wall with a hopeless concept.

So after feeling pretty proud of myself over the past 1-2 months of actually having a good writing routine and consistent production things have come to a bit of a screeching halt now that it’s time for draft number 2. (This is despite all my other posts about editing, for shame Thomas, for shame)

Turns out that productive writing habits don’t necessarily equal productive editing. A few folk I’ve chatted with online have found a similar thing.

So in true procastinatory fashion I ruminated on the whys and wherefores of this issue to blog about it.

I guess first of all it helps to point out some ways that completing a 1st draft lends itself to a regular routine, especially if you use my strategy of ‘vomit drafting.’ Vomit/crappy/dirty drafting is basically where one conquers writers block and anxiety but simply allowing oneself to write anything and everything towards just getting stuff on the page. The theory is its much easier to rewrite well than write well (HAH!)

The main reason I find drafting to be somewhat easier than editing is you can use word-count as a measure of success, and being able to see your progress is a great way of keeping motivation alive.

So that’s pretty much the first reason editing blows. You can’t really go on word count, often with editing you’re destroying words, but obviously you can’t measure progress by words deleted (although systematically deleting everything does have some temptation). One can spend an entire session on a couple of lines in editing (and hopefully make a significant improvement) and the lack of visible progress makes one feel like a slouch.

The next challenge is you can’t really ‘vomit’ anymore. You’re editing you’re supposed to be writing good well now. To be fair, I know that a 2nd draft isn’t going to be ‘the one’ but it’s hard to find that balance between freely writing whatever, without becoming paralyzed by high standards of editing.

Another subtle barrier is that writing and editing are quite different activities, and like anything else our stamina for each needs to be developed. I’m thinking back to when I first started plugging away at writing first thing each morning, the first few times where like trying to run (at all [I hate running except towards pizza or pikachus]). After a while I found that I could manage about the twice the material at the same amount of effort. I’m hoping here that editing is the same, because at the moment I’m managing a few paragraphs of work before I decide to start blogging about how shitty editing is.

I’m quite sure there are some more reasons – I was particularly interested  in exploring why the transition from drafting to editing was such a slog, I suppose there are all those emotional reactions too like realizing that your dream of being published is still a ways of (assuming this is the piece too)…

 

What other ways does editing blow chunks?

How you do combat the slog the rewriting?

 

One thought on “Why Editing Sucks Butt

  1. Well, what do you think of my writing? I should tell you straight out that everything on my site is the first draft. I can’t bear to edit anything because then it takes away from my flow of thought and my particular wording.

    As for you, perhaps the garbage isn’t actually garbage. How significantly is your editing usually? I’m told that the process I use to write my works is unusually short but I don’t know if my work is garbage or not. Perhaps having a second pair of eyes to edit would help.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s