One of our RWA group's newly-published writers, Rhonda Stapleton (who has a brand new website) gave a workshop on self-editing. EXCELLENT! She gave an online workshop, too, which I heard is awesome! I'm sure she'll do more; keep an eye out!
As the saying goes, real writers edit.
Er. I've always cringed when I heard that, because I've never done the whole editing thing the way I've heard people do it. (My small-press editors don't do much editing on my stuff.) Robert Gregory Browne's "I edit as I go" has made me feel a little better, but it still has given me pause. I do constantly re-read and tweak and edit. It's the first thing I do every day, and I'm often re-reading to check the overall rhythm and pacing of each sentence, paragraph, scene, chapter, and overall story.
What I loved about the presentation is that Rhonda actually had us practice what she taught us. It was fascinating! We hardly ever watch someone else write. We sit at our tables and desks, clicking away at the keyboard, and we never really know what goes on when another author sits down and works.
In a five-minute exercise, we had to write a scene that showed a woman deciding to leave her husband. If I could find the handouts (I put them somewhere special where I wouldn't lose them ... yeah, right), I'd show you my exercise.
I, who fretted that I didn't know how to edit, scratch out one word for every three I write. My writing brain and the editing brain truly do work simultaneously. I'm constantly re-reading what I write, even at a pace of 500 - 1200 words an hour. (For example, while typing the last paragraph I sounded out each sentence in my head several times while my fingers were typing.) I truly do edit while I type.
My paper was a MESS of scratch-outs, arrows, and inserted words. A total mess! I had no idea how much I use that backspace key!
Meanwhile, a writer next to me wrote in pen, in cursive, and never stopped. She wrote the whole page and never once scratched a single word out. Not a single word! I was both stunned and awed. When she was done, she read it out loud. Her excerpt had complete sentences that flowed! I was so impressed.
I could never write the way so many writers write: longhand in a notebook. Cynthia Harrison does it, Susan Wiggs does it in her "low-tech laptop," and Alison Kent writes with a fountain pen. Wow! These Clairfontaine notebooks seem to be particularly popular among writers. (Why?)
I'm guessing that if you take the NANO method or the longhand method, you would need to go back through and extensively edit after the book is written. Many writers write better if they can get that internal editor to shut up.
I'm not saying it makes any difference when you do the edit (during or after or both). I'm just realizing that I do a lot more editing than I thought I didn't do, LOL. Thank God. I can call myself a real writer.
It's fascinating to see how other writers write. I kinda feel like when I was six and discovered that boys and girls were different, and a neighbor and I showed each other exactly how we were different. Up until then, I'd suspected we were different, but I never really believed it until I saw it. :-)