One mistake many writers make is to write and edit at the same time. Trust me, at that pace, you’ll never finish! I once heard the quote (and I thoroughly agree with it): “A first draft is simply you telling yourself the story.” Meaning, the first time around, you’re just getting it down on paper.
Next step: edit ruthlessly. That’s right Kill your darlings. That means those lofty phrases you thought sounded so great when you first wrote them probably aren’t. Trust me again, being concise is a much higher priority than being eloquent!
When I’m editing, I keep a file for that project on my computer called “Holding Zone.” When I “edit ruthlessly,” I put what I’ve cut into the Holding Zone. That way, if I decide I want it back, or want to use it elsewhere, I can retrieve and reuse it. Tracking changes while editing will also accommodate this goal.
Eventually, you’ll get better at slashing your own work. And, you’ll likely find yourself noticing it in other writers’ writing if they don’t catch on to this important principle, too!
Arlyn Lawrence is a developmental editor and writer and the founder of Inspira Literary Solutions. When she’s not cutting words from manuscripts, she’s probably cutting dead-heads off the rosebushes in her garden. Same principle. 🙂