I do most things fast. I eat fast, talk fast, read fast and write fast.  In high school and college I would usually wait until the night before a paper was due and stay up late and crank it out.  The ideas had usually been gelling in my head for a while so the actual writing part came easy and I usually made it to bed well before dawn.  I almost always  made good grades on them too.  Not great grades, I thought those were reserved for the kids who had been working on it for weeks. Turns out my writing was just as good or better than the top grades – I just lacked one thing.  Editing.  I didn’t do it.  I was so relieved to be finished, I didn’t want to proofread and find errors.  I hoped that spell check caught most of it and hit print. 

So when I joined this writer’s group and learned that errors, typos and bad grammar were distracting to most of the group I was a little shocked.  I figured everyone knew what I was trying to say and could fill in the gaps.  Sure a little proof reading could make some minor improvements – but the overall essence of my piece wouldn’t change.  Red pens are for English teachers.  Our first major project was our advent devotional and we all read and group edited each piece.  It took much longer than I expected and covered way more ground than periods and commas.  I expected to have nothing to add.  I always tuned out during grammar lessons and I am not a detail girl so spelling isn’t my thing either.  To my surprise, I caught myself occasionally adding to a conversation.  A word that would work better, a slight shift in order or some things that could be trimmed.  I was also a bit afraid that my voice would disappear in my writing if I took everyone’s suggestions.  If I said it the way they said rather than how I would say it.  Turns out they were right.  I think everyone’s pieces came out better.  They flowed easier.  The word choice was better and the point a bit stronger.  Original ideas and voice intact, but much improved. 

I still do not enjoy the editing process.  I like to write. Have it out there and hit save.  Re-reading takes effort, energy and is sure to present errors that will need revisions.  I’m afraid this problem, or laziness, has crept into other areas of my life.  If I don’t look too close I don’t have to fix anything.  If I don’t weigh myself in the morning – I won’t have to hit the gym.  If I don’t examine my heart too closely – I won’t have to make any major changes. 

I still seem to be in a hurry when I write, but I at least give it a once over before I hit save or even worse publish.  The trend lately seems to be to end these with a question, so I will follow suit.

How do most of you approach the editing process?   Any tips on self editing?

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