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Some say when you write a novel, you should write first and save the editing for later. After all, if you do both, you’ll become distracted from the real goal of finishing the story’s first draft.

Well, I happen to be one of those people who edits as she writes. Meaning, I don’t save the editing for after I am through with the first draft; it is my priority alongside my writing.

Image by Nic McPhee via Flickr

Image by Nic McPhee via Flickr

Usually what I do before I write is that I read over the previous scene or two. Often I do this in order to get a feel for what is going on, so I could get into the ‘mode’, if you will. As I read over the scene, or scenes, I notice grammar or spelling errors. I also notice wordy paragraphs, redundant sentences, and things not well explained. So I edit these parts instead of saving them for later. I believe it is best to polish your work while you are creating it.

To best illustrate this, think of a sculptor. As the sculptor chips or carves away, some leftover pieces of the clay or stone remain on the artwork. This could be dust or pieces not yet brushed away. A sculptor has to brush away those pieces in order to continue with its work.

In other words, when I write, I edit in order to move on. The previous step – in this case, a previous scene – needs to be sharpened as much as possible before I move on. Of course, the actual sharpening comes much later, but I am all for sharpening all the way. It is a way of perfecting your work, and possibly making the editing easier in the end. It is also a good warm-up for the writing you are about to do.

How about you? What is your take on editing as a novelist writes? Do you support it or believe it hinders a writer rather than helps? What is your method of writing and editing?

Fire away!