Since I spent a good deal of my professional career as an editor, switching hats from a writer to editor is as simple for me as standing up, walking away from my computer, getting a snack, and returning as “Editor-in-Chief.”
I know that, once I’m done writing my draft manuscript, there’s a whole lot of work to be done. And I’m so grateful that I can turn off my writing self and disengage from the emotional connection I have to the words I put on paper. I know that many, if not most, writers struggle with this rewriting, revising, and editing phase, so that’s why I serve others as a freelance editor from time to time.
So here’s a glimpse into the editing journey I experience. I hope it will give you some tips, ideas, and inspiration for switching hats and putting on your own editing hat.
Before I start editing, I pray for wisdom, and I give the draft some time and space. I call it “letting it get cold.” Then, when I’m ready to tackle it head on, I first do a spell and grammar check and deal with any of the obvious. After that, I look for anything that needs slashing, cutting, adding, deleting—well, you get the idea.
I view the editing process as a unique form of creating. It’s like when my husband creates something from a raw piece of wood—cutting away the unnecessary, sanding off the rough edges, and finishing it with a lovely stain to make it a beautiful masterpiece.
As I edit, sometimes I rewrite a whole section and make the story a lot better. Other times I delete whole paragraphs, scenes, or sections. Sometimes I dig down in the weeds and use my thesaurus to find better words.
Many times I have to be brutal with my work; other times I have to hold it loosely and know that another pair of eyes and a different brain—my craft group, beta readers, agent, and/or editor—can see what I can’t see. I know that every writer has weaknesses, and I am no different. I can end up with pet words that I use too much. Or I can get caught up in a scene and wax way too elegantly on a point I’m driving home rather than keeping it short and sweet.
Sometimes I’m simply so exasperated with my writing that I get discouraged. Or I doubt my abilities and inspiration. That’s when I take some time with the One who gave me the ideas and talents and abilities in the first place. And He always finds a way to reorient me and restore my vision.
So when you have to switch hats, put on your editor’s hat with a positive attitude. Hold our work loosely and let the Holy Spirit show you the flaws and the challenges. And be open to change whatever needs changing. You’ll be glad you did.
How do you switch from the writer to the editor hat? I’d love to know!
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