…And when to begin and/or enlist a professional editor. I’ve been reading a great book, The INFJ Writer by Lauren Sapala. I think it’s good reading for all writers, regardless of their Myers-Briggs score, although those with an “N” in their score (for “intuitive) will likely have a writing process and issues similar to the ones discussed in the book.
The issue that struck me as an editor was Sapala’s plea to NOT fall into the trap of self-editing a section of your book when you get stuck. It does sound like a bit of a cop-out; stopping the actual progression of the story (fiction or nonfiction) and thinking that editing/refining what you’ve already written will substitute for moving on.
I know there are writers who write and edit as they go, and if this works for you to get you to the finish line, all good. But I get the impression that a lot of writers do use editing to avoid moving on. I know I have that sense of wanting things to be perfect as I go, but I’m an editor! I see a lot of wisdom in Sapala’s advice to writers to keep going to the end of your rough draft before editing (and she gives some great advice on how to do that).
Also, I’ve found that it’s more efficient to give a developmental editor a complete draft of a story to do a manuscript evaluation. I’ve evaluated both fully written drafts and drafts in pieces with some connective description as to what will fill the gaps, but I think my service is best used for a complete draft. With a partial manuscript, I do feel like I’m not able to give a complete idea of the value of the plot all the way through as a reader. Saves money for the writer in the long run, too.
So, from both me and Lauren Sapala: Keep writing through to the end of your rough draft!
From the Shepherd’s Satchel
When you do need to get into editing, how do you decide if you need a professional editor? Sara Donaldson, an editor from the far north of Scotland, has a great take on the pros and cons for you here.