Draft. Edit. Publish.

How to build a writing process part three.

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In the last newsletter, we covered a writing process in the most practical way possible that you can use to write repeatedly, from an idea to a full draft. If you missed it, you can read the lesson here.

I really wanted to continue in the fashion of the last one and do a deep-dive into a standard editing process, but a recent event changed my mind.

First, fam this is 2020. Others have done the hard work. It’s on the internet. I feel tremendously lazy to do another one as it’s nothing new. I had a blast writing the last issue as I broke down the writing process in a very personal way.

Instead, I want to share the thoughts I have about the online writing space in relation to editing advice. This newsletter is usually in an educational format, but I hope I’ve earned some leeway for today’s rambling.

Don’t worry, if you’re at a stage where you really need a set of sound editing rules and suggestions, people have already done the hard work. Here are my recommendations:

Seriously, come back when you’re done reading this newsletter and go check out one of these links. Thank me (and the writers) later.


Last week, a friend shared her draft with me to review. We jumped on a zoom call and screen shared. I started to read the draft aloud so we could really ‘listen’ to the flow and edit accordingly. What was supposed to be a one hour call to edit the whole draft, was spent entirely on the introduction. We whisked it down from about 400 words to 150 thereabout.

Why? Was she a terrible writer? Absolutely not. She writes like a pro. The intro was really good enough to be published. But we kept re-reading and going back to it even after we had made edits.

I kept asking “how else could this be reworded” “Are you saying the same thing with two sentences” “What is the context and point you’re going for”

After I made some initial edits, she began to rework her own work before I even pointed it out. “How come I didn’t see this before?!”

Without relaying a set of rules to her, I was able to lead her to see her work in light of complete clarity. All we did was spend time on it. Painstakingly.

It made me think. How much editing and writing advice would be unnecessary if people just took the time to sit with their work much much longer than we usually do?

The urge to get something out onto the internet may be derailing our improvement. I want to encourage you that you’re way better than you give yourself credit. Just learn to stay a little bit longer with your initial output.

Perhaps as budding writers, we’re far too easily pleased.

Secondly, how much do the general rules of editing apply to the writer’s scene? I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘editor’s bias’. For context, I told her to remove the word ‘that’ in places where the sentence was clear without it. Great advice to be honest, why? I had read it on the internet and it made sense to me.

But did I just project my own experience onto her?

How much of these rules can cripple a writer’s creative path? True, these rules are great when effectively used. But perhaps they can make most online writing similar if the writer doesn't inject his/her own personality into their work.

Where I am going with this? I don’t want you to find yourself removing an adverb in a sentence because an article implored you to do that. Do the painstaking work of finding out what style of writing and editing works for you.

The thing is we don’t want to do the hard work for long. Editing should make you bleed sometimes and doubt what you wrote in the first place is good enough. Puncture holes in your thinking and that of others as well.

You may inadvertently lose a number of readers but you’ll gain new ones who will appreciate your eccentric writing and become staunch fans. Down the line, you’ll understand why every word works the way it works in your piece and you’ll be a tremendous writer and editor for it.

Our only job is to manipulate words to make a point and then format as aesthetically and as clear as we can. We ought to sit with the canvas and learn the art.

Till next time.

Keep writing,

Ayomide.


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