Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Putting it through again...

When does one call a halt to the editing process? I know it's been discussed before and will continue to be. There's no easy answer. Probably the best one is, at deadline.

So, you've written the book/story -- that SFD -- then you've re-written it; given it to key readers and then gone at it again, taking their comments into account; then once more for good luck or as it happens, better reading. Are you sick & tired of it yet? No? Great ... because you've got a few more weeks to deadline.

I started listening to Anne Lamott's Word by Word on my early morning walks last week. In case you're not familiar with Lamott, she wrote Bird by Bird in the early 90's, a book for writers that's part inspirational, part exercises, part good sound advice. The title came from some advice her author father gave her younger brother about writing an school essay on birds (at the 11th hour), to just do "bird by bird".

It worked for Lamott. She has numerous fiction and non-fiction titles to her credit. And, she's an in-demand speaker. In fact, Word by Word is taken from one such event, where she spoke to an Austin writers' workshop. And it's not available in book form, unfortunately. You can download it from the library as an audio or buy it in that format.

So, what caught my attention last week? Lamott said that when you've finished the editing process, then it's time to 'put it through the typewriter'. More words of wisdom from her Dad. That means, re-type the entire manuscript. Not rewrite it but that in effect is what it turns into. Because once you start re-typing, it plays back differently in your brain. It's totally different from reading it aloud or just reading it on printed out pages.

But it's cumbersome. Data entry usually is. The challenge is to try to avoid typing errors while also avoiding carpal tunnel. If you took typing at some point in your education, then you're ahead of the game but it's still a slow process. I know. I'm doing it and before beginning each day, I wonder about the benefits of doing so. But after I finish a chapter and see all the changes I've made, I keep going. Day by day.

Like most writing tips, it may not work for you or anyone in your writing group. But it seems that not many have heard of this technique, so I'm sharing it, in hopes that it may be just what you've been looking for.

So, when do you stop the editing process? Or, is it deadline by deadline?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

1 comment:

  1. An interesting if laborious process. Let us know if you think the end result makes it worth doing.