One of my favorite lessons from grade school was when we learned the proof reading symbols for fixing our sentences. I love looking back through the process, marking things up, moving bits around (just like I’m doing now as I write this post). Yes, I’m that dork.
Others hate editing. They’d rather write and let others do that kind of grunt work. But I firmly believe that every author hopeful should know at least some basic copy editing skills. So here’s how you can have fun editing:
USE DIFFERENT PROOF READING SYMBOLS
There’s a spoof that many editors share in tongue-and-cheek posts about their profession, where the symbols highlight the levels of stress writers and editors go through. I laugh every time I see it.
They say that learning something new keeps creative juices flowing. My problem is I want to overuse these symbols, and it feels weird when a sentence is perfectly fine and doesn’t need anything changed.
I suppose that’s why I’m not a professional editor?
Editing is something I’m enjoying learning.
EXERCISE: Print off a page or two of your manuscript and purposefully grab a pen. It doesn’t have to be red ink; get yourself a fun color to work with and practice using some of these tools. You just may see something in print you normally wouldn’t on a screen.
EDIT A CHAPTER AT A TIME
I edit with pen and paper first. Then make the changes in my doc. Sure, it takes more time and printing off a full manuscript uses a lot of paper. Especially when it’s double spaced and semi-formatted for querying.
You don’t need to sit there, for hours on end, doing nothing but moving sentences and staring at your thesaurus. I’ve been there, done that. And I feel less accomplished than I did when I complete a manuscript.
Take a step back, work chapter by chapter, and take your time. Don’t rush the process. In turn, don’t expect an editor to have their edits of your work done in an unreasonable time frame. You may think that sending them constant reminders is helpful, but all it does is make them want to work on your MS less. (You may understand what I mean by that if you’ve worked in retail before).
I’m always surprised when I read threads online from folks who’ve never edited their work. How? No one’s perfect in their rhetoric. And fully relying on another individual to completely edit everything can cause your work to lose some of its voice.
Editors are fantastic creatures. You may disagree on the application of the Oxford comma, but many are passionate in helping their clients become published authors. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do edits yourself. It’s YOUR story, and a good editor will tell you that.
Remind yourself that
EVERY AUTHOR GOES THROUGH THIS PROCESS
You are not alone.
I’ve felt it many times during my writing journey, but that’s when I recognize that I need to tap the brake and step away from social media. Writing isn’t only about gaining an audience and making connections. That’s part of it, for sure. But there’s lots of conflicting messaging that comes along with it.
Find what works for you. You don’t need the latest writing program (heck, I write via Google Docs on a Chromebook. It doesn’t support fancy programs), an AuthorTube (YouTube channel) or an Instagram account to write. The amount of information that’s out there can, most definitely, be overwhelming to digest.
EXERCISE: Throw on your favorite tunes, grab an author friend or two and chat about something other than writing. You may be surprised what comes out of it!
I am sad that I’m no longer in the editing stage. In fact, I *should* be in the middle of a rewrite. A month of working night shifts hasn’t helped matters. Thankfully those finished last week, so now I can reset my writing goals.
That’s really the core of all this, right? Your writing goals. I know the above tips are truly easier said than done, but I hope they help in some way. This particular post was also a reminder for myself.
I know the three points in this post aren’t strictly how-to steps, but I hope they resonate. Good luck with your writing this week!