Editing is the Key to Success

Many times in the creative process we can stifle our inner muse if we try to edit too soon.  If in addition to enjoying creating new things, you are also a perfectionist, the NEED to fix things as you write or compose or create can become overwhelming.  The need to correct and fix seems to inhibit the forward motion of completion because we can ALWAYS improve what was just created.

The best writers recommend not making any edits prior to finishing a first draft. Get the words on the paper and finish before you begin thinking about all the things you've done wrong - spelling, grammar, and plot included.

This is easier said than done! The desire to fix as we write stymies our creative process. Waiting to edit until the creation is complete is valuable advice for not only the writer, but the composer, the scupltor, etc. Once the work is complete, you can then begin the editing process. Really the editing process is extensive and requires numerous pass throughs.

As a writer there are a variety of things meant by "editing."  Are you wanting proofreading? or are you going for a little more comprehensive edit for spelling and grammar errors and need a Copy Edit. Do you need a more thorough viewpoint with a line edit? The folks at New York Book Editors wrote a great article on the differences between a copy edit and a line edit.  You can read more here: https://nybookeditors.com/2015/01/copyediting-vs-line-editing/

There's also developmental editing which digs into characters, pacing and more.  You can read more on that here : http://victoriamixon.com/editing-terminology/

As you can see there are multiple edits, and many editors would likely include more types of editing with greater nuances of what they entail. Finding a good editor is key to landing not only an agent to represent your work but also that elusive book deal!

I like to start with grammar and spelling reviews with MS Word. I then run my writing through the paces with other software programs like Grammarly and ProWriting Aid.  I have really enjoyed the ProWriting Aid over the last month. They offer a free two week trial, but my favorite feature is not only receiving the punctuation and spelling help, they also grade sentences on ease of reading, style, and length of sentences. Another important feature is the ability to change my audience.  Am I writing to business professionals or is it perhaps a more casual "conversation tone?"

Because the edits have proven so helpful I have converted to a paying customer.  If you would like to know more - just click below to start a free trial.

Writing Improvement Software

If you do decide you like the software that's fantastic. This link actually allows me to receive a small commission on a sale at no additional cost to you. 

That being said. A real live person can always do a final edit much more accurately than a program can. You can clean up a lot of errors this way, but a real life reader and an experienced editor can then take that clean copy and polish it further. Always take it to the next step so that you can produce the best work you possibly can each time!

Operational Brain tasks vs. Creative Brain tasks

No, this is not the correct vocabulary I’m sure. So you’ve already guessed this won’t be a scientific type discussion.  You’ve probably heard it described more as a Left Brain vs. Right Brain activity right?  Let me see if I can explain myself!  I’ve had two conversations this week regarding the reality though, so I’m going to hope you know what I mean.

By operational brain, I am referring to the task oriented work we do by checking items off of a list, making and using tech options as reminders of our “to-do’s” and working systems in such a way that projects, assignments or businesses make progress ultimately being completed. 

By creative brain, I am referring to the very opposite process of creation.  Allowing time to be an open ended continuum to be able to create art, music, books etc. requires continual immersion in ideas and creative space. 

For a long portion of my life, I engaged my creative side but used it very operationally.  I didn’t allow a lot of time to create, and out of necessity worked very operationally.  First working operationally is quite easy.  Tasks need to be done and you do them.  Generally, you get paid for work you do especially when you accomplish it.  A few years ago, I realized my creative spark was being hindered by the very operational life I had constructed. 

Thankfully, I had a reached a time in my life and we as a family were in a position financially where I could find some wiggle room.  This wiggle room allowed me create again.  Where it was musically oriented before, I know allowed the stories in my brain to come out and began going down a road of writing.

It has been a delightful journey, but a tough one frankly.  I have always believed that if you work hard and produce good work, you will find success.  This is not necessarily the case in the publishing world.  But I am learning, and I am training myself to improve. What’s funny to me though is that the deeper I immerse in what I believed to be a fully creative opportunity – I come full circle back around to the necessity of digging into the operational side again.  Building a platform, connecting with people and networking, creating the sales pitches and proposals all require a certain level of operational brain.  If I’m not careful I can find myself swing so easily back into operational mode again.  Again, tasks get completed, checklists get checked and “to-do’s” get crossed off.  Short term satisfaction though because ultimately I LOVE and CRAVE creative brain.  It’s what I enjoy even if currently I’m still trying to figure out how to earn from it.  I’m working through it and I’m learning I MUST protect my creative time, by compartmentalizing my operational duties into certain time frames, even though my tendency is to deal with things as they occur.  Creative time has to be precious and protected and utilized everyday even if the creative lightning bolt doesn’t strike.  Showing up and working the creative muscle is half the battle, the other is not providing an excuse for avoiding the creative work.

How about you – do you get what I’m saying about operational brain vs. creative brain?  If so, let me know how you work through it!

The Writing Life

The writing life - conferences, groups, chats, etc.

I went to my first writer’s conference a little over a year ago. It was local and for only one day, so it felt doable.  I was so incredibly intimidated, but I was determined to see if I could learn anything about this new thing I wanted to start doing. It was a great experience.  From there I launched into a much larger writer’s conference, that required travel and several days away from home. To say I was intimidated for this conference is a major understatement.  I was overwhelmed with all I didn’t know.  The thing is I usually try to put myself in situations where I have an understanding or knowledge of what I’m doing.  It’s a blessing and a curse really.  I will kill myself with research before I will actually go try to do something.  I’m working on it.

All that to say this – the writer’s conference experience has so far been encouraging.  While I didn’t meet my goals at the large conference and actually returned home feeling discouraged, several things happened after conference that have become so important for my journey.

  • I got my first Work for Hire job because I was at the conference and heard an announcement. 
  • I met new friends, also writers, who continue to encourage and assist me with their expertise.
  • I've had opportunity to review books, write blog posts for others, and pray for new friends who needed me to hold them up.

Without these contacts and networking I would have likely given up long ago and gone back to where I was safe, and had already put in many years of work building my expertise. I’m thankful that I haven’t allowed myself to let go yet.  The camaraderie of the writing community has been wonderful as well. 

Not only are there individuals that I rely on now, but also the groups.  We have a great group of friends who meet weekly to talk about all the different facets of writing – it’s called Writer’s Chat and technology is great because we use zoom from many different states to meet each week. (If you are a writer and would like to join us - just join the Facebook group here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/writerschat/   

I also joined the Word Weavers Community (check it out here) While there are many local community groups that meet, there wasn't a group close by so I joined an online one. ur online group meets once a month and we review each other’s work reading aloud - a 1000 word chunk of something we are writing, and then giving honest feedback to each other.  I value the input I receive in these meetings.  Both groups give me encouragement and help me learn while I am doing.  Not sure what I would do without either group – they both give me the push I need to work on these things that are difficult but enjoyable as well!  The really great thing is that they have both encouraged me that my writing is worthwhile and interesting.  That makes all the work worth it.

Lastly, I have learned that I need to align myself with people who are farther into the journey than I am. This means signing up for online classes and webinars about marketing and writing.  Or learning more about social media and email lists or in my case all of the above – I signed up for 12 online courses in January – I am a bit ambitious.  This also means submitting my work for critique or sitting in brainstorming sessions with those folks as well.  A lot of these things are not free, but it is a wise investment in my future work. Paying for expertise, even from my friends, lets them know I value their expertise, and helps me to take what we do seriously.  The accountability is motivating among these friendships.  Paying for services that friends offer also benefits their businesses - which in the writing life is huge.  I believe that the Bible teaches us that the worker is worthy of his wages I Tim. 5:18. If you are trying to find tools and resources to help you organize, plan, or move forward with queries and proposals etc. you can't go wrong with my friend Bethany Jett's services at Jettsetter Ink. Start with her blog - here and then be sure to check out resources, and planners, and training she offers.

Surround yourself with an encouraging community and see what you will accomplish.  The tips and experience is so beneficial.  Before long, you will that you can provide some of your own tips and experience to someone new that's just starting the journey you've already been on.  You'll be able to give back to someone else very soon.