I edit what I write several times before I hit the “Publish” button.
On many occasions I leave my darlings aside for a fortnight or so; and then I read them, cut, append, read, juggle sentences and paragraphs, juxtapose, add, drop, umpteen times in no specific order until satisfied to a certain extent. In most cases I publish only about 60% of what I originally typed.
In her post titled “Kill Your Darlings” W. Michelle says:
Being a good writer means knowing how to edit: taking what you’ve written and stripping out the dulling distractions so your ideas shine. It’s not always easy, but it is necessary.
She quotes American writer and Nobel Prize laureate, William Faulkner: “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”
This is Michelle’s advice to bloggers:
- Today — whenever you’re reading this — start a new post. Write until you’ve said everything you want to say, then save your draft — but don’t publish.
- Tomorrow, open the post and check the word count (hint: it appears at the bottom of the editing box). Edit your post down by 10%, then save it and forget it again.
- Repeat on two more days, until you’ve done three days of editing.
- After three days of editing, hit “Publish.”
If your original draft was 1,000 words, the piece you ultimately publish should be around 730; if you started with 500, you’ll end up with 365 or so. If you’re a flash fiction writer who starts with 50, you’ll need to get yourself down to 36. (If you have a bolt of searing editorial insight and want to cut it down more than 10% on any day, feel free.) Whether you’re a long-form or short-form blogger, learning to wield your red pen ruthlessly will improve your writing.
A fellow blogger and poet Tom Balistreri commented to Michelle’s post:
After I write I go back and remove all my typos.
Then I go back and correct my sentence structure.
Then I correct my grammar.
Then I throw out anything that’s frivolous or doesn’t make sense.
At that point I have a blank page.
- Kill Your Darlings (dailypost.wordpress.com)
- Blood on my hands (headfirstintothedeepend.typepad.com)
- Killing My Darlings (michelleule.com)
- K is for ‘Kill Your Darlings’ (scribblinginthestorageroom.wordpress.com)
- Top 10 Tips for Better Writing (forwardthinking.ashford.edu)
- The writing problem I can’t fix (terriblywrite.wordpress.com)