Some Words About Editing

By Bhalachandra Sahaj

editing in the writing processI guess you know that writing a story, a novel, or whatever else is just the first part of the process. Even if we put publishing issues aside, there are still challenges to deal with after you finish the last chapter, paragraph, or academic paper section—these are editing and proofreading.

Although they might seem the same, proofreading is different from editing. To proofread means to check whether your writing has spelling, grammatical, punctuation, or other mistakes and to correct them. To edit means to change what you have written to make it more consistent/pleasant to the ear/comprehensible/logical and so on. In other words, editing is improving and polishing your work as a whole.

In connection to this, I cannot omit mentioning such a typical (and not just for amateur writers) problem as editing while in the writing process. Many writers rush into editing without completing the whole thing. How? Basically, they edit each sentence immediately after they write it. Or they spend a long time trying to find one exact word or phrase, putting aside the rest of the text, which is yet to be written.

The effects of this? A decreased pace of writing is, perhaps, the most innocent consequence. A more serious one is that by doing so you put yourself at risk of losing the general perspective, forgetting what you were going to write further, and low productivity. How much energy do you think you can spend on editing instead of writing? My answer is: all of it.

Keep in mind that you cannot write perfectly from the first attempt. Imagine a sculptor who is molding a statue of a beautiful woman out of a piece of marble. Normally, this sculptor shapes a chunk of marble so that it gains a general resemblance with a human figure. Next, the sculptor makes this figure look more and more feminine, and gradually progresses from general to particular: facial features, fingers, folds of clothing, and so on.

And now imagine this sculptor, instead of making gradual progress, starts to carve a woman’s face right on a marble rock. Shortly put, imagine this sculptor starts molding a statue straight from the most sophisticated and thorough details….

Does it make sense to you? I bet it doesn’t. But this is what you do when you edit while being in the process of writing. So, my advice is: treat yourself and your writing with a loose mind—let your writing be imperfect from the beginning, because you can trim and shape it out later.


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