Editing: an essential part of the writing process. From what I can tell, some people love it, and others love to hate it. I personally love editing my own work, taking that raw material and polishing it to a gleaming shine. But like any part of the writing process, editing comes with countless frustrations.
There’s a simple trick I’ve learned through my editing process that I thought I’d share…
I work on my manuscripts in increments, as anyone with a limited amount of time will do. This naturally leads to having to leave off at one point one day, and pick it back up the next day. Ideally I’d leave off at the end of a chapter or scene, having completed one major portion for the day, but in reality I’m often interrupted mid-scene. Such is life.
Then when I go to open my manuscript again, I don’t always remember exactly where I left off. Chapter 11? The beach scene? Wait, which beach scene? So I’d start scrolling through my manuscript, inevitably finding some other scene to edit just one more time before getting to what it was I was supposed to be doing that day.
This is not good.
You don’t want to re-edit the same scene too many times in a row. You want to take a pass at it, then forget about it until your next round of editing. Reading and rewriting the same thing over and over causes you to completely lose your objectivity. And objectivity is essential in editing. As Stephen King says, “It’s hard to kill your darlings. It’s much easier to kill someone else’s darlings.”
So how to avoid this?
It’s such a simple trick I feel kind of silly writing a whole blog post about it, but it’s one that took me a while to figure out, and it’s helped me immensely. So:
Whenever I close out my document for the day, I put a word in on the line where I left off. I use a word I wouldn’t find anywhere else in my manuscript (like “wingardium leviosa”). The next day, I just search for that word, and voilà–I start up again exactly where I left off.
It’s so simple! Am I the last person to figure this out? Do you have other obvious tricks I’m missing? Please let me know!