During an editing consultation with someone this morning, we decided between us that editing (as part of the creative writing process) gets a hard time – not to be confused with editing is a hard time. Of course, sometimes it is. But is it any more difficult than staring into the abyss of a blank screen for upwards of an hour waiting for “that great idea” to come out?
The fact of the matter is editing is a process through which we make our work better. So, for many of us, we grin and grit through it because we’re aware of the finish line – and the potential rewards for reaching such a line. However, I wonder whether there’s space to enjoy editing more as a creative practice, which could make the whole editing-mare easier overall.
This summer I’ve edited a fair amount of work by other authors, and I’ve sincerely enjoyed it. At the moment I’m editing accessibility documents written by other authors and, again, there’s a fair bit of enjoyment to be gained from it. I feel a sense of, ‘Ha! That showed that misplaced comma!’ on getting things into a better state than they were in when I found them.
Off the back of that, then, I wonder whether it isn’t editing that’s the problem so much as editing our work that causes issue. So, what about if we break-up with our manuscripts before we edit them? Okay, maybe not a break-up, but at the very least we should say, ‘I think we need a break from us…’
My point being that editing, as a creative practice, has grounds that we can enjoy running through. It might not be as joyous as the initial spark of creativity, I’ll admit. That said, sometimes my initial spark of creativity is a hot mess by the time I’ve finished typing, which makes editing the saving grace.
Either way, a perspective shift on editing might not be the worst thing in the world for us as writers. There’s a way to enjoy it more – insofar as a recrafting of our initial craft – and that enjoyment might make the dreaded “Please see attached edits” email not quite as bad as it used to. If editing is a necessary evil – which, I can assure you, it absolutely is – it makes sense to go easily into the dark side than to always be fighting back to the crisp white light of a fresh document. Everything will need the red pen sooner or later…
Disclaimer: If there are any typographical errors contained here assume that they’re deliberate and merely an editing exercise for you, reader, from me, the writer. If there aren’t any, please ignore.