One of the most common questions, complaints, and concerns I hear is that a writer edits while they write, or stops and edits a chapter before moving on, and so on. They get stuck. Stephen King and so many others recommend you do not do this–do not start editing until you have your first draft. Then edit all you like. In fact use placeholders, such as (in fiction) “crime scene.” Then you can always go back and talk to cops about crime scenes and so on.
Not only does editing as you write slow you down or stop you, it can mess with your style and voice. Did you know you write “like you’re reading?” It’s true. Best if you read a particular author(s) exclusively if he/she/they pertain to what you’re working on. It will come through. Ever find yourself starting to use a slight southern drawl when in South Carolina, or a definite dialect when in New York? We are influenced by what we read and observe. Another reason to get quickly through your first draft.
For non-fiction, I’ve found it best to overshoot your word-count target. If a book is largely based on interviews and we’re writing a 50,000-word book, best to have something line 70,000 in transcribed words (not including all the questions and so forth).
Editing is about taking away and making clean and concise more than about adding where needed, and then about organizing and perfecting.
Anyway, a simple tip, but an important one, and a hard one for perfectionists to follow!
Recommended reading, On Writing by Stephen King
We are still all high and sooo proud of the book and are really seeing how much of a difference it is to have a published book. It has given new life to all our other projects. Thank you for being so positive and supportive all through this long journey. Thank you so much again for your amazing help and encouragement and friendliness. I got the first printed copy of the book today and it looks fantastic. I am so proud of it.
Wow! I have been engrossed reading this afternoon. It looks great! You know I am really proud of all the work you, the contributors, and I have produced. I really appreciate everything, you are truly amazing. Thanks, so much Rod.
You guided me and coached me and brainstormed with me every single step of the way. There is no way on Earth I would have done a book of this quality without you. You have all the tools—even the cover! I look at my books and I’m like, Oh my gosh! I never would have been able to do the formatting and all the stuff that you do, have all of your expertise. Thank you, again!
When we first talked about what I was doing I really did not expect for it to be as easy or for us to connect as quickly as we did, Rodney. . . The material I had needed to be reorganized and fleshed out. We worked together on that and we decided to release the books with an end in mind. . . you really helped me do that . . . you came up with illustrations that captured what it was like to actually use these principles, and I was thrilled with all of that.
Thanks to (Rodney) my books were actually able to come to life . . . Rod brought light inside a very dark tunnel. He was my editor, as well as technical and design genius, and pure joy to work with. I am grateful beyond words.
It’s been huge, and the coaches that I coach . . . the one who initially shoved me into putting this all together, he now wants to make sure when he has a new group of coaches that they have the book. Very exciting. Super excited. . . I looked forward every single time we got together to get another chapter or two out of my head and into a recording that could be transcribed and edited. . . I loved doing them. It was really awesome to have you as an audience and funny—I felt it was easy to put the book together. . . you made the whole process super easy to me.
I couldn’t have gotten the job done without Rodney Miles. He helped me tweak the book to perfection and stayed patient and professional every step along the way—a kind, intelligent, resourceful and accomplished publisher and/or business partner. Thanks again for everything. You’re honestly the only reason this happened. You’re fantastic!
As soon as I started reading my chapter alone, I knew this book will make the list. It’s very powerful because of your work. Great job! I never doubted your ability to make this a gem and you absolutely delivered it.
GREAT WORK. It was remarkable how the author really has captured my voice, tone, and desire to flip challenges into something to appreciate.