5 Proven Ways to Waste Time Editing

Every free minute of these last two weeks have been filled with attempts to edit and flesh out my fantasy manuscript.  Needless to say I’ve paid much more attention to what is working and what has wasted my time.  And when time is hard to come by, making efficient use of it is crucial.  Here are five no brainer tips for improving your editing time:

  1. Editing with any type of social media running. I’ll admit, Twitter is my new way of learning all sorts of crazy fun things and network with other writers.  However, when a new tweet comes in every minute or so it’s darn near impossible to keep focus on the job at hand. The same goes for email notifiers, cell phones, and the like.  Turn them off when possible!
  2. Becoming a grammar Nazi early in the game.  While editing for clarity and flow, don’t stop to check if your commas and dialogue punctuation are correct.  Chances are things might change a few more times before you are ready to line edit.
  3. Skipping difficult sections to return to later.  While allowing time to meditate on crucial elements of a novel is important, these nasty little bits will have to be faced in the end.  If you can’t get past a difficult section at least do yourself the favor of writing down the issue and where it falls in the story; then move on to the next section and keep going.
  4. Trying to do it all digitally.  With all the programs, gadgets, and gizmos out there it is possible to write and edit a book without printing a single page. I don’t recommend it.  Scrolling back and forth to compare ideas, making notes, and trying to find specific scenes takes ages longer on a computer than printing out a copy and writing on it everything you wish to change.   That, and actually holding your book is very empowering.
  5. Taking everyone else’s advice but your own. Perhaps you are now in the critiquing phase and have collected a mountain of ideas from your readers.  Before you start making major changes to anything, think through each piece of advice and decide if it is something that will work for your story.  If not, ignore it.  It is your story and you still have final say of what stays and what goes.

Just like snowflakes, all writers work differently.  No advice is one size fits all.

Are there any tips or tricks that you find helpful when editing or revising your work?  Let us know in the comments!

About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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12 Responses to 5 Proven Ways to Waste Time Editing

  1. Michael Knudsen says:

    Good lessons learned. I agree on the hit-and-miss value of critique groups. One onling group I worked with would only look at the first 13 lines. We spent so much time bashing each other’s first page that no one ever made it to page 2! Finally I quit the group and started writing.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention 5 Proven Ways to Waste Time Editing « My Literary Quest -- Topsy.com

  3. Laney says:

    Thank you for your insight. I especially like the idea of printing my novel out instead of continually scrolling back and forth. I think I’ll try that. Editing is killing me so it’s worth a shot. 🙂

  4. I agree with you about printing out your manuscript. A lot can be done with screen and keyboard first but then, when you read the printed word, you pick up different things.
    My first tip is to change the margins just before you print which ensures that you are reading the words differently and not skimming lines subconsciously because you already know what you have written.

  5. I agree. While you may cry for the trees, you’ll cry harder trying to edit digitally. And read the whole thing out loud. And I always read the whole thing out loud, I catch problems with flow better that way.

    If only that’s the only problem my ms had! Sigh. Major plotting problem revealed as I struggled to write a query has me questioning the whole thing. How could I have missed that in the first 2 rewrites?????

  6. Oops, sorry for the repeated sentance. *Point in question* 🙂 Trying to comment and follow twitter at the same time 🙂

    • tsuchigari says:

      My point exactly! Being distracted = bad idea. I have yet to come up with a short way of describing my story, and I know it’s going to trip me up in the end when query time comes around.

  7. jenniferneri says:

    I edit in stages, time consuming at first glance, but in the end really saves a lot of time. I usually begin with addressing the scene itself, what’s the motivation of it, does it move story forward, etc? I read, ask myself a lot of questions in footnotes, then leave it and come back to that scene again. Line editing and fixing prose I leave for last (as painful as that is for me), ’cause you are so right, so many many hours can be wasting editing passages and even whole scenes just don’t make it to the final draft.

  8. oldancestor says:

    I’m with you on #5. I get frustrated with all the contradictory advice. You just have to write the way that works best for you. I’m sure plenty of well-known, successful writers were told what they were doing was “wrong.”

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