There is a Time to Write and a Time to Edit – Don’t Try to Mix the Two

I have talked to a number of people about what they are calling Writer’s Block, but I believe that they are confusing writing with editing. I believe that what many people call writer’s block is actually editor’s block. One of my best pieces of advice for writing is to remember this: There is a Time to Write and a Time to Edit – Don’t Try to Mix the Two.

Especially for the creative writer and the blogger, I advocate free writing. When I decide what my topic will be, I simply begin to write. I don’t pause to worry about how to spell this or that, and I don’t worry about commas. During the very earliest part of writing something, I don’t even spend much time trying to put the gerund phrases where they belong and trying to avoid splitting infinitives. This will probably sound odd to many, but throughout my writing process, I often close my eyes and simply type. When I am trying to describe something, that works especially well. It also works when I am trying to hush my Self-Editor.  During the first stages of writing, simply write. Save the editing for later.

Just keep going like crazy and look back when it’s over. Otherwise you just get confused. – Cliff Burton-

Don’t get me wrong. There IS a time for editing. In my opinion, editing is not a pleasant experience and that is why we should never mix our editing with our writing.

“While writing is like a joyful release, editing is a prison where the bars are my former intentions and the abusive warden my own neuroticism.” ― Tiffany Madison

When you write, you should allow your mind and your spirit to flow freely. You should allow yourself to reach as far as you can reach and to explore. If you begin editing too soon in your process, you will prevent yourself from soaring, and you will slam your creative brakes too soon, thus starving your mind to death.

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After you have finished writing, it is time to put on your gloves and to begin editing. For me, editing is much more difficult than writing. In fact, I KNOW that I have Editor’s Block. I’ll do just about anything to keep from editing my work, but even the most creative of us can edit as well as we can write. The two processes are simply different.

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” – Colette

While we are writing, we should allow our words to dance freely and when we edit, we should scrutinize ourselves, but we should never try to mix the two.

©Jacki Kellum August 15, 2016
Confused

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7 thoughts on “There is a Time to Write and a Time to Edit – Don’t Try to Mix the Two

    1. My advice is to force yourself to see it through and then, walk away for an hour or so. Come back later and look at it with fresh eyes. If you start editing too soon, you will get tangled to the point that you will simply want to quit. Often, when you feel that you want to quit, your self-editor is simply trying to take over. For the next few days, I’ll be writing a lot about the self-editor. Stay tuned and forge on.

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  1. Thank you for some very useful advice. This is something I have always struggled with. I have only just discovered your blog and I find it very interesting. I’m afraid my writing still needs streamlining – I seem to wander from one topic to another – much the story of my life really. Do you have any advice or opinion about whether a blog should be on one particular theme or is it ok to write on varied themes? I’ve been blogging for a couple of years but am still very much a novice and any advice you can give me would be welcome. Many thanks, Ellie.

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    1. I have several blogs, but this one is subtitled Juxtapositions. From the very beginning, I have wanted this to be my place to simply write whatever I want whenever. I believe that while you are developing a following, writing about various subjects helps you to connect to a variety of reader types. In addition, this helps you identify what your own primary interest is. You need to jump into Blog to Memoir. That is my blog dedicated to writing tips. In fact, I am beginning a free course on October 1. It is aimed for writers–particularly for writers who need to improve their blogs and their web identities. There will also be daily writing exercises. I’ll offer that class on the blog to memoir blog. You’ll find info about that Here: http://www.blogtomemoir.com/be-wary-of-books-people-who-suggest-that-you-can-write-a-book-in-30-days/

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      1. Thank you for letting me know about your other blog. I will take a look at Blog to Memoir – it sounds like something I would benefit from reading. You write some interesting posts – will try and keep up.

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  2. Don’t worry about keeping up. I write very quickly and I am also reposting things from this site to other sites. That makes it seem that I am writing faster than I actually am. Primarily, try to get into the class on October 1. It is free and it will give you a sense of structure to follow.

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