This post is for the writer’s out there. Now is the time to write. Later, you can edit. But you can’t edit and write at the same time–it disturbs the flow of inspiration. Writing first and getting the story out is important. Too many times, we start editing prematurely and that causes writer’s block!
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I know. I stopped writing for nearly twenty years because I was trying to edit each sentence before I even put it down on paper. A very frustrating process. I not only “put the cart before the horse,” but then I ran into it head first and knocked myself out for twenty years!
Time To Write
I’ve written about this before, but getting into the habit of writing is so important. Have a set time of writing and write. Even if you’re just writing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” a hundred times. It’s writing. Gettting words on paper. And it’s creating a habit. Eventually, maybe your natural curiosity prods you to investigate why the dog is lazy or how the fox got so quick. And then you find yourself writing down other paths, following other storylines and you find you need to continue.
Don’t stop to edit during your writing time.
One trick that works for me is that when I’m writing something that doesn’t work for me, I start a new paragraph, put a question mark next to the old one and then I keep going. (All of my first drafts are handwritten in Moleskine flexible notebooks that I take wherever I go.) If your first draft is on a computer then don’t delete any sentences or paragraphs that you don’t like. Highlight them in a different color and start a new paragraph. You never know what you’ll want to keep when you’re in the editing process, but if you delete it on a computer or scribble it out in a notebook, you’ll lose it completely.
Once I’m finished writing, then I start editing it all together. And usually what ends up in the final draft is a little bit from the new paragraph I started and a little bit from the paragraph I gave up on. That’s why I don’t scribble anything out—It’s a form of editing!
Do not start editing until you are done.
Time to Edit
I read about one author who would write in the morning, meeting his daily page or word count goal. Then, after lunch, he would come back to his work and edit what he wrote. This allowed him to have a starting point for the next day. That’s not for me. I have to write out what I need to write first. Then I go back and edit.
It’s up to you to figure out how it works best for you. To find that balance. But one sure thing is that the writing is first. The editing is second.
And when it’s time to edit, it is a good idea to have a program like Grammarly to help you along.
The great thing about Grammarly is if you are just using it for spelling and simple grammar….it’s Free! It works on most major browsers like Chrome and FireFox and can be added to the toolbar. You can even use it on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Microsoft products. Grammarly even knows when you’re using correctly spelled words in the wrong way. And it catches when you put an extra space in between your words, something I do far more often than I like.
The paid version even does a plagiarism check against eight billion web documents. This is great for blog posts and for academic work. It also checks sentence structure and context.
Is this the be all, end all for editing? No, but it goes a long way in helping your work shine. Because it’s so much a part of my writing process, I don’t even realize how much it’s helping me. Or at least, that is until I open an old blog post that was written before I started using Grammarly. Then all the red notifications pop up. I find extra spaces in lines or the misuse of ‘to and too.’ And that’s when it’s time to update an old blog post!
Remember, there’s a time to write and then there is a time to edit. And Grammarly can help with the editing part.