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Editing and Creative Writing Giving you a Headache?



Diana here:
First, let’s get the science stuff by a non-science person out of the way.

Our brains have 2 sides, left and right. One of them is all about math, organization, and logistics—yawn, the other is for fantastic fun, colorful times, engaging dialogue, art, music and all that is good in life.

I’m guessing you know which part of my brain gets used the most.

But to perform the best as a writer we need both sides but must separate the two halves. The creative side needs to feel unconstrained by rules and the wise owl on our shoulder telling us to put in that comma, take out that word and find a stronger one. It’s also pushy and wants to have an intricate part of our creative process. But we must train that pesky owl to wait for his turn.

What can we do to separate those two brains?
Popular advice:

1.     Write in the morning. Edit in the afternoon. OR the reverse if you are more creative in the afternoons.

2.     Edit your last chapter before writing your next because it gets you back into your story.

3.     Edit every other day, write the other days.

4.     Print your work and only edit the hard copy.

5.     Use one computer for writing and a different one for editing. (In what world do writers have two computers? Most of us are happy to have a dedicated writing space.)

6.     Put a hat on your head when editing. Take it off when writing.

7.     Don’t change a word during the writing process. Free write and edit when you are done.


Here’s my advice.

Be prepared with your synopsis before you begin. If you don’t know what you want to write, you’ll waste time with your editor brain attempting to make something out of nothing.

With the scene you want to write in your mind, hit the keyboard. If you seem to stumble because you can’t remember if a word is capitalized or needs a hyphen, highlight that word and keep going.

Can’t think of the right word at all? Type  XXX or YYY –you pick it’s your work and keep writing until you can’t go anymore.

Then take a break. Eat something, go outside, or at least stretch your arms over your head. Then go back and look for the highlighted spots and edit them. Then do a find search for those capital letters and fill in those places.

When you finish the first draft, put on your editor hat, (make it fun, bejewel it with the word editor or get a white hat and a permanent marker if that’s more your thing) print out the manuscript.

Yes, print it out. Your eyes will not catch things on the computer screen. You do not want a reader asking why you wrote sale when you meant sail. Which is why listening to your book to catch errors doesn’t always work.

Next pull out a red pen. Yes, a red pen. It shows up the best when you go back to put your changes into your manuscript. You may think you’ll catch that comma you added with a blue or black pen, but odds are you won’t because it blends in with the black ink from the printer.

Don’t let the combined process break your brain. It’s good to have two sides, it’s what’s kept us safe when we come up with ideas like: Wouldn’t it be exciting to jump from one rooftop to another because one of our characters did it an t worked out great.


What’s your advice for separating the creative brain from the editing brain? 


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