How To Have Fun Editing

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!


Thoughts One Week Ahead of #RevPit

What is your general feeling as a writer prepping for #RevPit right now? Stressed? Perhaps. Are you ready or far from it? Maybe you’re not participating and you’re tired of hearing others go on and on about it.

I suppose now would a good time to explain exactly what #RevPit is. This is an annual contest put on by the editors of the website called Revise and Resub. They award those chosen “w5 weeks of our editors’ developmental editing expertise.” Runners up win a query/first page edit or a synopsis edit.

Tantalizing, right?

This time last year my manuscript wasn’t even completed. I wanted to participate so badly that I thought, “Maybe I can finish writing this thing in…five days.” Heck to the no! I write historical adventure fiction. I can easily spend five hours researching the fact that typewriters weren’t even invented yet during my story’s time period!

So that idea went out the window real quick. But that’s when I started following some of the RevPit editors. I got to chat with them. Learn from them. Be a Twitter thread stalker when three of them started tossing out tips and tricks for writing outlines or self-editing or how to write an author bio.

If you’re just starting out in Twitter writing community this year like I was last year, that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to know what everything is right away. It’s like starting a new job. Unless you’ve been “in the biz” for years already, you have to take those baby steps. I didn’t know what a story aesthetic was. Or a blurb, synopsis or that there was a debate on whether or not to use the Oxford Comma.

If you’re frustrated that you can’t participate in #RevPit, don’t fret. You’ll get there! It just took me an extra year because I’m a slow writer, but it also gave me a goal to work for.

Up to this point I’ve mostly mentioned things for those not participating in this year’s contest. For those of you who are: BREATHE.

“But Leigh,” you say. “This is a big deal!”

Trust me, I’m not refuting that by any means. While I don’t typically follow astrology or put much stock in my “Libra” personality, I do often try to be a balanced person and see both sides of anything. I apply this to my activities online as well.

If you stress yourself to the point you’re worried you’re never going to finish in time to submit, schedule time into your day to fully concentrate on your preparations. Heck, I’m still just thinking about my synopsis and tomorrow’s going to be a full on library day where I knuckle down and work on nothing but that. I finished my other projects earlier this week so I can focus on that last bit.

Breathe in, breathe out. You’ve got all the pieces, right?

“But Leigh,” you say. “There’s so SO much advice out there! How do I weed out what’s true and what isn’t?”

Do the research. As an employee of the retail world I learned early on to subscribe to the philosophy of, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” If what you’ve looked up seems to go against the grain, ask. Use the #writingcommunity tag, add an editor from #RevPit’s site and see what happens!

So you know what? You’ve got this! Regardless of if you’re entering #RevPit this year – you’ve got this! Work at your own pace. Don’t try to enter or do every little tag (you’ll stress yourself out even more), and do your research. Make sure you’re participating in something you can get behind.

Good luck to my fellow entrants!


A retail worker by day and content creator by night, Leigh is from Pittsburgh, PA. When she’s not working on her first novel series based on the rich history of the Keystone State, she’s watching Star Trek, True Crime and home reno shows. Leigh also partners with other writers and editors on weekly interviews for her blog called The Five Question Interview series.


The Infamous Editing Loop

I have a problem. I have more than one problem but that’s not what we’re here to focus on today! That will take far too long (ha!).

I remember reading a quote somewhere, and I have to dig it up again, which states that when you’re writing your first draft that you are writing the story for you and no one else. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t need beta readers or critiques or write groups right off the bat. The first draft is a chance for you to get the story out of your head and onto paper. Or in the form of pixels.

Edit: I’ve found the quote. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” -Terry Pratchett

So why do I keep going back and constantly edit the first few pages of the first story I’m ever considering submitting for publication?

Perfection.

That’s the motivation. Perfection.

The first draft isn’t meant to be perfect and yet I can’t let certain sentences go until I stare at them for an hour each to try and figure out how to best word it. I’m no editor and still I try to be. Do I use a semicolon here instead of a comma? Is this sentence an individual thought or is it part of the next or previous paragraph? Is that the right word I need or do I pull out my thesaurus again?

I think that some tuning is naturally part of the writing process but I know I start running into trouble when I start over analyzing things that really should be left alone for the editing stage.

Perfection can come at a later time, if it ever comes at all. For now, the story just needs to come out.