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Next Chapters

When to Write and When to Edit

March 20, 2021

Editing. Many authors will say that it’s a loathsome task, but there are others who love polishing each chapter until it gleams. So when should you be writing, and when should you be editing? The answer: whatever works best for you. As there are many ways to edit, here are some important things consider before you jump in.

1.    First drafts are usually terrible. Sometimes you just need to accept that.

Some established authors can bash out a near-perfect first draft, but those are few and far between. The standard first draft has plot holes, cardboard characters, and large sections that say, ‘insert action here’. This is normal, and so editing as you go isn’t always going to help a first draft much.

2.    Don’t use editing as an excuse not to write.

When it comes to the actual business of sitting down and writing, the process is different for everyone. For some, it’s the best part of creating their novel or short story, and the hours can pass by in a blur as they type. For others, every hundred words is a struggle. Editing is often used as a procrastination tool. When you should be writing your next chapter, you’re instead editing one paragraph over and over. Having a finished first draft is much more important than a single ‘perfect’ chapter.

3.    Editing has its place

Some authors like to edit what they’ve written the day before to help them ‘get in the zone’. Others edit after every completed chapter. Many will recommend no edits until you have a working draft. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it. The main thing to remember is to not let edits stop you from making progress.

Posted in Writing Tips

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