I think every writer knows this story, but I’m making a point, so hang in there. You hear about a lot of manuscripts that have been sent in the minute the author has written ‘The End’. And – most of the time – these first draft manuscripts are rejected. It is unlikely the writing will be marvellous. There will be awkward phrasing, week sentences and verbs, and major plot flaws that need smoothing over.
A first draft is all about enthusiasm and discovery, but it is also a walk in a dark forest with a torch. You are still finding your way. It is only the first part of the journey. The editing process is just as creative as the writing process, but it takes patience and concentration, so it has a bad reputation with people lacking in those virtues (I was one of them, once upon a time).
I’m only human – surprise, surprise! I used to prefer writing to editing. I sincerely believe this was due to my goal-orientated mindset; a mindset which does a serious writer no favours. Writing is a journey, not a race. And like every journey, you should enjoy the process just as much as reaching your goal. If you aren’t enthusiastic in the editing process, it will show up in your work as flaws and faults.
Just as very gem needs a polish, so does every story. I taught myself not to rush into sending off my work until I had actually spent some time rereading and editing it. Some things only need a few tweaks. At other times, I have a real ‘what was I thinking’ moment. And sometimes, I surprise myself with the gleaming words that resonate on several levels,
I’ve turned my own editing process into a treasure hunt, looking for the gold, because there is always some. Even the slash and burn of editing can give me a feeling of satisfaction, because I get a real buzz of cutting away the fat and weeds of a story, to reveal the true beauty lurking underneath. My first draft tends to be written with limitless freedom, and the editing process then refines and emphasizes the best parts of all that energy. And that be a lot of fun.