Monday’s Writerly Quote

I know many of us, especially us Row80ers, are in the midst of editing and revising. It can be one of the most difficult parts of the process, but it’s also the most necessary. This is where we take that lump of coal and eventually end up with a diamond.

Even Mark Twain agrees, in a way:

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.

Okay, so it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but he’s right. The majority of us writers (and I really could say ‘all’ in that I haven’t run into a bad story ‘idea’ yet) have a fabulous story rumbling around in our minds. The issue is figuring out which words need to be crossed out as we translate from mind to paper.

Something we should all understand is that if we want to be great writers we will never stop editing. Let me say that one more time. If you want to be a great writer, you will never get to a point where you create a perfect first draft. You may create a pretty awesome first draft one day, but if you’re the type satisfied with mediocre effort, do us readers a favor and seek another career.

As a reader, I want the best from that author. I should want to do the same for my own readers, and I hope you do, too.

So embrace the editing process, friends. Let’s figure out which wrong words to cross out and show our readers stories they won’t be able to put down. Let’s never settle for mediocrity.

Do you like the editing process? Hate it? What have you done to help yourself better embrace it? How many drafts do you go through before you let anyone read your story?

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15 thoughts on “Monday’s Writerly Quote

  1. I think the editing process has a love/hate thing going for it. I enjoy reading my completed story to see how it works as a whole. It’s the repeatedly reading it that wears me down. I used to do about 10-20 drafts because I took everyone’s advice. Now, I’m at about 5-6 drafts since I do a lot of outlining and I double check my facts and continuity as I go.

    • I think the work will be put in one way or another, whether it’s up front or afterward. As long as it gets put in, I think we can all do it in the ways that appeals to us. Sounds like that’s just what you’re doing.

  2. Yep, definitely love/hate. I enjoy the editing, and I also find it frustrating. I know that editing will always be necessary, and I embrace that; at the same time, I really hope that the process will become more streamlined as I apply everything I’ve learned from previous works!

  3. Mark Twain really had a way with words. I must like the editing process, considering how much time I spend on it. I could edit forever and never publish a thing! Ha.

    • Lol. But it’s good you’re willing to polish up your writing. I think an editor/publisher would rather have to tear a well-edited manuscript from a writer’s hands than have a lump of garbage tossed at them.

  4. I think a story comes alive in the revision process. So I love this stage. My discovery drafts are pretty rough. I write notes to myself: “Fix this”; “Maybe delete this later.” I usually write in layers. In the first draft, I’m telling myself the story. In subsequent drafts, I’m showing you the reader the story. I might let one or two people see a couple scenes. Other than that, no one will see the whole thing until I’ve revised it maybe a couple of times.

    • I think our readers deserve that. I always do a little revising too before letting first reads from others happen. I do like the idea of adding in notes. Do you do it in the comments?

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