Setting: Your favorite writing nook
Characters: You and your freshly written masterpiece
Time: The present
You have just finished your latest story and you are flying high on the creative juices still flowing inside you. You know it is wonderful. You sit back, close your eyes, and revel in the story that is still dancing around your head.
You decide to go back to the beginning and get started on revising. Just fixing some spelling or grammar here or there, it is such a great piece to begin with. As you begin scrolling your way back to the top you see red and blue lines all over the place, highlighting so many mistakes. Maybe there will be a few more revisions than you thought.
As you start reading, you find words out of place, misspelled, or missing completely. Subjects and verbs disagree all over. Does that comma need to be there? Do any of these commas need to be here? And why did you use the word “just” so many times? It doesn’t even look like a word anymore. And those mistakes don’t include the character that disappeared on page 5 and never returned or was mentioned again, you know, just the main character’s sister, no big deal when the story takes place on a family vacation. You want to stop reading. Your masterpiece is crumbling before your eyes and your confidence in your writing ability is crumbling with it.
Wait, before you turn in your writer’s badge and pencil, consider what I have to say.
- The first draft should never be used to measure your ability as a writer. The purpose of the first draft is to get the idea down on paper and out of your mind. Doing this allows you to see it all in front of you. So you can see when the sister disappears and maybe doesn’t need to be included at all. Spelling and grammar aren’t important in the first draft. It is more important to focus on the story itself.
- It might be a good idea to wait a while before going back and revising. This will give you time to think about other things. Give yourself time to come down from the high of writing and return to it with fresh eyes. Maybe you only need to wait until tomorrow. Maybe give it a week. Figure out what the best time is for you.
- Even when you’ve made it to draft number 3 or 7 it’s okay to still find mistakes in your grammar. Or to still be filling in plot holes. It is expected that it will take multiple drafts to get the story right. The story is changing with each draft which will result in new mistakes showing up. Keep breathing, this is normal. I work as an editor and I still have people edit my writing. And they always find mistakes. Having problems to fix does not make you a bad writer. Knowing that a story will benefit from taking the time to find and fix those issues will make you better. Embrace the mistakes that come with the craft and maneuver through them to create your best work.
Do you have any other ways you get through self-editing and still love yourself on the other end? Share them below!