Help Me Stop Over Editing and Write Faster
Many new memoir writers come with the great big bad habit they learned over years of editing—perhaps as language-arts teachers or team leaders at an agency. Perhaps they were editors at a newspaper—or is your source of the problem something entirely different? Regardless of what it is, here is a solution you can put into practice today. (The problem was aired in a post in the Memoir Forum and a solution is offered there in a slightly different format.)
Alter your writing approach from that of the editor to that of the creator/artist. It will help you to write differently, I promise. Here’s the challenge:
1. Set a time during which you will write–for instance, 45 minutes.
I have done this exercise in workshops with pen and paper. You will probably do this exercise on a computer but I will write about it as if you were using a pen and paper. (You can adapt easily for the computer.)
2. Write without correcting anything during those 45 minutes–not even crossing off (or deleting on a computer).
Just keep the words flowing and keep in mind that over editing can kill your memoir. You can write slowly if you wish but you cannot edit or stop writing. Then, after 45 minutes…
3. Read what you have written without correcting anything.
Do one read through without any editing whatsoever. (Resist the urge!) Read through and tell yourself whether this writing is of any merit. Often, you will be amazed at how good it might be even without any editing. (You need to experience how truly good you can be!)
4. Subsequently, allow yourself an editing time that is no more than 20% of the writing time you had allotted.
So, with our example of 45 minutes, you will have 9 minutes to edit. This will force you to do only the best, most necessary edits and leave the nitpicky stuff to the side. (Should I have written “Return home” instead of “Return to the house”—the fate of the entire memoir depends on the right choice of “home” over “house” or vice versa!)
5. Repeat this exercise.
Do so day after day until you can write without sabotaging your memoir with over editing.
Remember: over editing can kill your memoir.
Let me know if you do this and how it works for you. Or, perhaps you have an alternate “best exercise.” Please share below or on the forum.
For appropriate editing help, give us a call at 207-353-5454.
We have helped many people whose lives demanded to be recorded but who themselves were not writers to create interesting and well-written memoirs.
We listen to you speak your story. We ask you a multitude of questions. Then we get to work writing. We come back to you with text and you make lots of corrective comments and we ask you a whole lot of new questions. Then, we go back to writing again.
Over time, your story develops into a memoir—one that you have shaped at every stage of the writing process.
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