Do not edit

Stop it. Right now. Stop editing. Look, if you’re writing then your job is to write. That’s your only job. Because here’s the truth:

Over 95% of people who try to write things never finish.

This is the key to getting where you want. As silly as it sounds it is as simple as: Finish your story. Write. Keep writing. Finish. Then you can go back and edit.

I’ve known too many people who want to start writing and write a page or two and then stop and go “Well let me fix that before I move on.” They will, chances are, never finish. Because they don’t move forward. They just move backward. Every half step they take they take two back to “fix things.”

When you are writing your job is to write. When you have told your story and it is time for edits your job is then to edit. Do not try and do both jobs at the same time. You will do both poorly. Instead focus on the job at hand.

Look, I know when you’re writing and you need to change something because you want to move forward but that motion depends on this change back there and maybe if you just go back and – nope leave yourself a note. I like to make a hashfile for those notes. “Fix chapter 7 so that the rhinos are plaid” sort of thing. I’ve also left them in brackets and bold or fun colors, in the document itself. Whatever works for you. So long as you do one job at a time.

I work as an editor a decent amount again these days, and I tend to focus on working with newer writers. Mostly because I love the enthusiasm they have, and partly because if I can help just one of them finish a story then I’ve really done my job. I’ve helped create an environment for them to just do the work in. And then a comic comes out (let’s just say) and I can spend a bunch of my day shouting congratulations at someone. Because they finished their story, and that opened the door to everything else.

Do your job. Write. Focus and don’t lose sight of it for the fixes, the tweaks, the changed mind or the “making it better.” Let your first draft be shit. It’s a first draft! That’s what it’s for. You’ll go back, hell, you’ll go back so many times you’ll learn to hate life, so why rush that? Write, just write, and when you’re done – then you can edit.

Until then – don’t you dare.

By Adam P. Knave

Adam P. Knave wrote this, but you knew that, since this is his site. That's kinda how it works.

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