Writing is one of the most personal, agonizing and intoxicating journeys on which one can embark. It is the act of creation, from the moment the initial idea exists as a mere gleam in the writer’s eye until it is fully captured in print. At this point you are a writer. Congratulations!
If your only goal is to reach the point of creation to be that writer, stop reading now. Nothing in what comes next will be of interest. What comes next is why writing groups exist. What comes next is…Editing.
Editing is a difficult concept. I can remember when I struggled with it. ‘Why can’t you see the beauty of my creation?’, ‘What do you mean, ‘You don’t get it?’, ‘I don’t need to make changes. You need to re-read this and then agree that this is the best literature you have ever read!’
Very few authors can continue to thrive by working in a vacuum. It is a rare talent that can look at the initial creation and say, ‘it is complete’, and be correct. So what is Editing?
Editing is not a personal attack. Editing is change. Change is necessary. Change breathes life into your creation.
Seeking out a writer’s group to edit your creations can be terrifying. But the benefits from the experience are tremendous. These critiques will highlight what was exceptional. How well is the plot developed? Are the characters believable? Is the author’s voice distinct and compelling? Even better, the critiques also reveal the weaknesses: sentence structure, punctuation, is/are the action/characters too cliché?
Editing allows growth in the author, developing a greater confidence in what is created and improving the ability to self-critique, which provides the path to finding the author’s unique voice.
In my own journey in joining The Toledo Writers Workshop and accepting the necessity of editing, I am discovering richer and more complex emotions, more compelling characters and worlds that used to be hidden in the shadowy edges of my imagination. I am no longer daunted by the idea of pushing beyond my dreams and seeking out what used to be unimaginable.