How To Drive Yourself Crazy And Then Become Sane Again In Just Two Easy Steps!
Step One – Getting mad, frustrated, and breaking your pen…also known as Editing Your Own Work.
It is a well-researched, scientifically proven fact that nobody actually enjoys editing their own work. Not only does it take time and patience (things writers sometimes lack), but it also tends to have negative effects on a writer’s morale. Often in reading one’s own writing, one finds the ultimate truth of one’s linguistic capabilities – such as how limited they are. (And how stilted a sentence becomes when one uses ‘one’ over and over again.) Sure, there are a few genious-writers here and there, descendents of Shakespeare, probably, who will look at what they’ve written and think, “Hey, that’s actually pretty corking“. But let’s face it: the rest of us mortals’ writing generally stinks to the third degree. Due to this, editing becomes discouraging. Faith is lost. Tears are shed. You need help.
Step Two – Sitting back with a cup of tea and listening to soothing music…also known as Letting Someone Else Edit Your Work.
Sure, it looks like you’re being lazy. That can’t be helped. In reality you are simply occupying your time until some person finishes helping you edit.
Finding another human being to edit your essay/book is important for two reasons. One: it gives you breathing room from your writing. Up until this point you have likely been devoting much of your heart and soul to consuming paper and ink. Friends and family have probably been forgotten. Go back to them (temporarily). Tell them you love them! Get them to read your work! And critique it! A little time away from your writing is therapeutic.
The second reason for having someone else edit your work is palpable. They, unlike you, have not been reading the same forty pages over and over again until they are memorized. They do not know all about the main character before they read the first line. They begin with a blank slate, and are more likely to catch mistakes – spelling, punctuation, grammar, etcetera - than you are. Also, if your writing tends to be stilted, or comma-happy, or your metaphors are overly flowery, another person is likely to notice this more swiftly than you do.
There is always someone there to help you. Believe it or not, critiquing something you yourself haven’t created can be fun (especially if you are into grammar). A close friend (who can read) is often a good critic. He/she is the most likely person to be brutally honest, and that, though you may not like it, is a quality you want. If you are particularly self-conscious about your writing, a family member or someone unjudgemental is ideal.
Go Forth and Edit.
As a final thought, remember this: just because getting help in editing is more comfortable than self-editing doesn’t mean you should resort to only this. Self-editing is an equally important learning experience that must not be jumped. Reading aloud, buying a thesaurus, and ruthlessly killing commas are all good ideas you should consider when you self-edit. Don’t settle for just “okay”. You’re a writer, great! Now you need to be an editor too. Don’t think of editing as a chore. Think of it as a pertinent step on the way to publishing your work. At the risk of sounding clichéd, just do it.