Home Forums Tip of the Day Let’s talk about self-editing (sniff, sniff!)…

  • Let’s talk about self-editing (sniff, sniff!)…

     riva pomerantz updated 10 months, 1 week ago 8 Members · 11 Posts
  • riva pomerantz

    September 23, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Hi, I’m Riva and I’m a compulsive, perfectionistic over-editor. Since it’s Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, I have decided to come clean and tell you that today, as I was uploading my latest novel to the Shop section of my fansite (have you seen it? http://www.rivapomerantz.com. I think it’s fun! :-)), I was innocently typing in the back blurb as the book description when suddenly…..

    I EDITED IT!!!!!! Yup, that’s right! My back teaser text, which was first written by my very capable, experienced editor, was THEN edited by ME, MYSELF, AND I (all three of us!), and was then PRINTED, in beautiful ink on thousands of copies of books that were then SHIPPED OUT to every corner of the universe… I edited it for the description on my website! Sigh…

    Why do I share this? To tell you the moral of the story. Despite my very serious handicap in the compulsive self-editing department, I have been blessed, in Hashem’s infinite kindness, to write 12 best-selling novels and have just embarked, be”H, on a 13th and 14th simultaneously. So there is always hope… The caveat, however, is that I have not allowed it to paralyze me. I only allow it to…perplex, frustrate, aggravate, and challenge me as I (oof!) parry and (ouch!) tangle and (groan!) fight for the right to craft my words to perfection. Except that tomorrow they may not read as perfectly to me anymore. Oh, and did I tell you the real irony here? The back text I edited for the fifth time was for my book entitled…Enough! 🙂

    Let’s hear your war stories, ladies. How do you grapple with self-editing? How do you or WOULD you stop it from holding you back?

  • Brocha

    September 23, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Riva, you’re awesome.

    For me, it’s poetry. I can’t stop until I have perfect syllable counts, perfect meter, perfect rhymes… and if it’s a commissioned poem or song lyrics, no amount of “It’s fine, Brocha. You’re the only one who cares,” can stop me from editing and re-editing until it is.

    Today I plead guilty to counts

    Of Murder by Edit – Amounts.

    I read and reread.

    I pray I’ll succeed.

    And if something’s off, well, I pounce!

  • HappiWriter

    September 23, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    I once heard a quote: “You never finish editing. You just stop.”

  • Kayla-Oppenheimer

    September 23, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    For me editing can literally drive me insane. I’m talking about poetry. I can spend two hours trying to edit one poem. And still not be happy with the results. As one can imagine, the progress was slow to the very least. With another 100 poems to go, the mountain seemed unclimbable. Until my writing teacher saved me from editing ad infinitum. I now edit my poems with her over 2 or 3 hour periods. Sometimes we do 11 poems or even 20 poems in one session. She also taught me how to productively edit, gave me pointers, but still made me do the work. So that is my advice: it is actually impossible to self edit – a second person’s eye is invaluable and actually stopped me in my tracks of perfectionism to the point that self-editing didn’t help me, it paralyzed me from effectively editing.

  • A Willing Pen

    September 23, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Each time I read it, I edit it. And then after I submit it, I reread and re-edit and kick myself for submitting already ‘cuz there was one word somewhere that could’ve sounded better.

  • Chaya’la

    September 23, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Whew self- editing.*Long drawn out sigh*

    I have this thing where I’ll sleep over my piece (sometimes in the literal sense like under my pillow) and hope that some mystical angel will impart some wise words of wisdom and constructive criticism…. But of course when I wake up all bleary eyed and yawning recalling those sweet dreams is just that – a sweet dream. So all I can do is retrieve that crumpled piece of paper from underneath my pillow and skim through the over-chewed lines – yet again. 

    Of course, giving someone else the honor of doing this tedious task is always a good alternative, but what happens when you can’t bear the thought of seeing your heart and soul being poked and prodded mercilessly? And even if you do take the courage to put that writing on the judging table, who is to say that you won’t continue the arduous self-editing process AGAIN?!

    It’s like a never ending circle… which can only end in an impulsive submission or archived in defeat….

    So, my advice (if anyone’s up to taking it) is to inhale a big gulp of confidence, close your weary eyes, and just-hit-ENTER….. Trust me you’ll be glad you did.

    Oh, and one more crucial piece of advice (if you took my first bit already), DON’T reread that submission once it goes into print!!! It’s a recipe for self-destruction. Trust me. I’ve been there….

    Hope that helps with those self- doubting writing conundrums. G’luck!

  • PassionforWriting

    September 23, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    Oh boy am I a perfectionist  – in writing especially. It can drive me crazy as I agonize and wonder if that’s the right word / way to phrase it etc. Riva, how do you keep up that balance??

  • A Willing Pen

    September 23, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    With self-editing, the best advice I have been given is to let the piece rest a bit before editing. This puts distance between you and the WIP, ensuring you are not too connected or obsessed with particular elements and allows you tackle the issues with a level of objectivity.

    This advice is not very helpful for write-as-it-goes-to-print writers.

    Riva, show me the inside of your hat – you must have some tricks hiding there! How on earth can you submit without giving yourself a little break before editing? And, do you never want to go back and change something you’ve written way back in chapter 5 or add a juicy comment to a conversation that takes place in chapter 9? Do you edit your books or are the novels exactly as they appeared in serial format?

    • HappiWriter

      September 24, 2020 at 1:06 am

      I agree with letting the piece rest. Sometimes after editing and analyzing so much, you’re so enmeshed that you can no longer see things clearly.

      Sleep it over. The next day you’ll read with fresh eyes, and it’ll be easier to see the big picture.

      (I have this a lot with design. I find that projects done over two days come out much better than those completed in one.)

  • A Willing Pen

    September 24, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Yeah, fresh eyes are so important though I was talking about letting it rest for at least a month or so. It’s why I always work on two or more pieces simultaneously… When you come back to a WIP after a looong break, it’s a marvel how you perceive aspects you hadn’t initially noticed.

  • riva pomerantz

    September 24, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Loving this thread, ladies! It’s so important to talk about this, and thanks everyone for the great advice and chizuk!! We are all warriors! 🙂

    Every word that gets salvaged after being buffed and snipped and scoured…it should definitely bensch HaGomel! 🙂

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