Two Overlooked Impacts on Editing

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Thank you to those who commented on last week’s blog. They inspired me to give more thought to writing productivity and editing, specifically, since it’s 100% of my writing life these days.

Whether I’ve had a good or lousy editing session depends on a number of factors, like how many other things I have on my mind, whether I’ve slept well, eaten properly, or even exercised. As mentioned last week, skill and time play a role in productivity. But here are two more factors that tend to slip off my radar.

One is location. After blogging about the importance of stepping away from writing to get a change a scenery, I’ve also remembered that editing in a different space from my usual spot often has a positive impact on my work. It can be a library, the car, (I did that a lot while waiting for my kids’ extracurricular activities to finish) or somewhere else. Those changes helped me see my work in a new light, literally and figuratively.

Last week, for example, I drove my husband downtown to have a minor medical procedure. While I waited to pick him up, I went for a walk and wound up in a food court at a large mall. I ordered lunch, found a table removed from everyone else’s and, after eating, pulled out the Casey Holland novella I’ve been working on. I don’t know if it was the lighting, the white noise, or what, but I suddenly found entire sentences that didn’t need to be there. Would I have done this had I been working at my home office? I don’t know, but I do know that those lines had made it through umpteen previous drafts.

Here’s another, often overlooked impact on my editing life. Moods. After times of frustration and annoyance at my secretarial jobs, I’d find a quiet place on my lunchbreak and start crossing out unnecessary words. There was something about a “let’s cut to the chase and bloody well get it done” frame of mind that helped cut superfluous words. So, if you’re in a lousy mood and don’t want to get down to editing, try it anyway. You might be surprised.

I’m not suggesting you’ll be a better editor if you’re experiencing negative emotions. If you’re really happy or relaxed, editing can go well, too. All I’m saying is that my moods have an impact on my work, so I now attempt to make them work for me. If I’m experiencing intense emotional or physical pain, however, that’s a different story, and probably a topic for another day.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

10 thoughts on “Two Overlooked Impacts on Editing”

  1. I agree that all of those things play into our writing selves. I also find that if I create create a pdf that I can’t edit and I have to listen to it, stop, and write down the errors in longhand, I find many of those little missing words that drive us all mad.

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  2. There’s actually research that discovered people work well in coffee shops if there is a low level of noise in the background. Anyes and I did this together for a time and it proved productive for both of us.

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      1. Don’t know if you’re aware but our creative classes are resuming this week. Enrollment is very small and classes could be cancelled. I’ll put out an email to previous Saturday attendees today! I have a feeling that keeping well apart from each other won’t be an issue.

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  3. Debra, good news that you achieved such a successful edit out in the food court and I believe a change of location can make a difference. As for mood, I believe that this can make one an even more effective editor but you are right that extreme emotions are another issue completely. I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts on this later.

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