I finished writing a novel a little over two years ago and decided to pitch it to a couple of agents at a writing convention. Right now, I am grateful that neither agent was interested enough to ask for any part of the manuscript. Their reason: not interested in anything that contained anything supernatural. My reason: It sucked.
After I had completely explained my novel, one of the agents took the time to tell me that my novel contained too many fragmented pieces of story line. I should, she suggested, rework the piece into a trilogy.
I tried for several weeks to figure out how to follow the agent’s suggestion, but I finally had to put the piece aside for a while. In fact, I put it away for almost two years.
However, that didn’t mean that I didn’t continue to write and hone my writing and editing skills. I worked on short stories and writing to prompts and writing blog posts.
My husband’s solution was that I should hire an editor, but I kept telling him I could edit the piece myself.
At the latest writing conference, several recently published authors who were on the “success panel” spoke about working with an editor. They voiced what I already knew, an editor can charge anywhere from $3,000.00 to $5,000.00 and a couple even more.
So, before you hire an editor (Which at some point you will probably need to do.) you should really know how to edit your own work.
STEP ONE – SILENCE YOUR INNER EDITOR
Wait? What? Silence my inner editor? But?
Listen. Have you ever sat down to write and after an hour, you have written less than a page? Why is that?
Usually, it’s because we write a couple of sentences and before continuing, we make corrections.
If you have ever taken part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) during the month of November, you’ve heard that you should silence your inner editor as you write the 50,000 words of your first draft.
You can’t edit words on a page that don’t exist. So, WRITE!
WHY SILENCE YOUR INNER EDITOR
Silencing your inner editor allows your thoughts to flow freely and get your ideas on the page.
When I taught high school creative writing, I required my students to participate in a 10 minute writing exercise every day. This gave them actual material. Things that they wrote. Then, they chose one of those pieces and worked to revise and edit the piece.
Before you can get to the process of revising and editing, you need words on the page.
This process is designed to take two weeks. I don’t have weekends factored in; they are your writing break. If you follow the two weeks of prompts, you will have 10 pieces to practice editing. Or, you can choose to write on the weekends. It’s up to you.
It doesn’t matter if you use your computer or paper and pen. (PEN, not pencil. It is so easy to stop and erase and begin again if you use a pencil.)
Find a quiet space; your personal writing space. You want uninterrupted time.
Set your timer for at least 10 minutes.
Write to the prompt. When the timer goes off, you can stop writing or – if your writing juices are flowing – continue to write. Just don’t stop before the timer goes off. (You will find the prompts at the end of the article.)
Do not stop to edit. Do not read what you have written until you have completed all ten of the exercise prompts.
By writing short pieces, you will have ten pieces to choose when it comes time to practice editing.
It is much easier honing your editing skills on a short piece than on a long piece.
TECHNIQUES TO SILENCE YOUR INNER EDITOR
For me, pen and paper is the easiest medium to use when practice silencing my inner editor.
If you are using pen and paper, focus on keeping the pen moving. If you feel yourself pausing, start writing the word “and” until something pops into your head and you move forward.
Typing is a harder beast to conquer when working to silence my inner editor. The reason is two-fold: first, I play piano and have been trained to look at the screen (music) while my fingers work; second, typing class required us to look at the screen or the textbook because there were no markings on the keys.
So, how do you work to overcome sneaking a peek at the screen and correcting things as you go?
- Try looking at a picture or the television (silenced) as you type.
- Put a towel over the screen so that you can look at the keys as you type.
Although these are listed as Monday through Friday, you can begin any time; you can even choose to write on the weekends.
Just work to write every weekday, or if you choose, write every day.
MONDAY (story idea) A thief plots to steal a valuable artifact.
TUESDAY (5 words – include each of the five words as you write, you can change the form of the word.) meatloaf – robin – raced – mixed – paper
WEDNESDAY (picture) see below
THURSDAY (personal) Write about the worst birthday present you ever received.
FRIDAY (start with this sentence) I reserved the lake front cottage because my doctor told me to take some time off and relax.
MONDAY (story idea) A mother wrestles with the decision of whether to forge ahead with chemotherapy for breast cancer or seek alternative therapy.
TUESDAY (5 words – include each of the five words as you write, you can change the form of the word.) confused – cedar chest – $10,000.00 – dining room – knob
WEDNESDAY (picture) see below
THURSDAY (personal) Write about your favorite vacation spot.
FRIDAY (start with this sentence) I took one look at the return address on the envelope and knew it was bad news.
PICTURE FOR FIRST WEDNESDAY
PICTURE FOR SECOND WEDNESDAY
TOMORROW? REVISION VS EDITING