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Write Fast, Edit Slow

June 11, 2012

As I’ve discovered in my years of writing editing and proofreading are critical parts of the writing process. This should come as no surprise since readers can become easily disengaged by plots that don’t make sense and a plethora of grammar and spelling mistakes.

It has always been a challenge for me, having gotten caught up in the excitement of something I’ve written, only to discover later that a great piece of writing has an critical mistake in it.

Solving the problem hasn’t been easy and occasionally mistakes still get through, even past multiple scans by different sets of eyes. Alas, the only near perfect solution I have found that seems to work is to edit and proofread at one third to one quarter the pace that I write. It seems to solve most of the problem albeit it creates a new one in that output can be delayed as a result.

However, over time this is less of an issue since one tends to write faster and reduce the traps that previously affected their writing. Engaging plot lines become easier to develop, especially with a good planning process, and spelling and grammar errors are similarly reduced through awareness by an analysis of  the common repetitive errors a writer makes.

The mistake is to rely on software to cure the problem. For example beyond a certain file size Word seems to reach a point where it no longer recognizes spelling and grammar mistakes. So a writer who trusts it to highlight and pick up all the mistakes they made is in for  rude shock if they don’t proofread their document.

In the final analysis it is the writer who is responsible for the final draft regardless of who else might be involved in the process. As a writer who is interested in creativity and developing ideas I wish I never had to get bogged down in the minutiae of spelling and grammar, which I find pure drudgery, but I do. The consolation I take is that my stories end up being crafted better and readers remain in engaged in good stories.

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