Have you ever spent an hour rewriting your first paragraph or even just your first sentence? I can’t claim the first sentence part, but I have certainly spent more time than I care to admit rewriting a paragraph. The result – a perfect paragraph, maybe? Not much to show for all the time spent. Who knew I had such perfectionist tendencies?
I think I might still be on this unproductive path if I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November. With the goal being 50,000 words in one month, I couldn’t afford to spend my time spinning my wheels in one place.
As the ladies before me have shared, editing and revising primarily belong after you’ve finished your first draft. That doesn’t mean that you absolutely, positively can’t edit or revise until then, but you need to know if you belong to the Queen of Self-Editing camp or the Perfectionists Only camp.
Campers need to be aware of the pitfalls of membership.
  • Do you find yourself pausing with your fingers over the keyboard after every sentence and savoring the sound and flow of your words?
  • If they don’t have just the right elusive something, do you go back and change them, again…and again…and again? And maybe…again?
  • When you continue on and get to the next page, do you find yourself going back to reread the page before just to see if it needs improvement?
If you have any of the above signs, consider yourself a member. What is the cure? Since NaNoWriMo isn’t until November, the remedy will have to come elsewhere. Perhaps you can set a word count goal that will push you hard enough that there won’t be time to indulge in self-editing. Or you can ask other writers at your local ACFW chapter how they have overcome this malady.
As for me, I am still looking for a permanent cure. In the meantime, I will burn my membership cards and procrastinate as usual. This also cuts down on my self-editing time.
Elaine Clampitt is serving as the Secretary/Treasurer for Mile High Scribes, the South Denver ACFW chapter. Elaine has 4 grown children. When she isn’t busy self-editing or caring for her new puppy, she is working on her novel that is set in the world of professional ice hockey. To read profiles of women who participated in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games, go to The Women of Hockey.com.