Cultivating an editing mindset can be one of the most supportive things you can do for yourself as a writer.
Editing gives you another shot at expressing yourself in a clearer way. In this way, editing can be a deep act of self-care.
When you embrace an editing mindset, you know that you won’t get it right the first time, so you’ll be less inclined to procrastinate. You’ll be less hung up on immediate outcomes, and you’ll take the time to get it right.
Here are three ways to build an editing mindset, no matter where you are on your writing journey.
- Give yourself time to revise. Don’t hit “submit” on your first draft. You need to allow time to self-edit. Each time you revise with your target reader in mind, you strengthen the structure, tighten dialogue, improve exercises, and develop stories and examples. Revising is like rehearsing—you can never do it too many times. Beyoncé rehearses, and so should you.
- Leave blanks and come back to them. “TK” is editorial jargon for “to come” (the TK combo rarely comes up in English, with obvious exceptions being Atkins and Sitka). You can use TK or another symbol, such as &&&, when you need to look something up, like a date or a measurement. You can use TK as a blank and fill it in later, so you don’t slow your progress. Don’t know your protagonist’s name yet? Don’t worry about it! Just keep writing.
- Deconstruct your manuscript. As writers, we can become really attached to our sentences, paragraphs, and manuscripts. We don’t want to mess with the structure, and then we don’t want to make any changes. GET MESSY. Cut scenes, move sections, change the typeface from serif to sans serif, read your manuscript aloud, write out the chapter topics on index cards and move them around on your floor to come up with the perfect order…do anything you can to see your manuscript in a new way. That’s what an editor will do for you, so the sooner you can do it for yourself, the better.
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