As a writer, my stories are my babies. If I lost one, I would be devastated. Like, slip into a severe depression and contemplate quitting as a writer altogether, kind of depression. I have known MANY fellow writers who have experienced this. Their hard drive dies with all their manuscripts on it, and they’re lost forever. Their physical notebook was left on the bus or destroyed when someone spilled a drink on it. Their flash-drive went missing. Their file became corrupted. Their cloud storage got hacked, or everything got cleared out. Nightmare scenario after nightmare scenario. I’ve heard of writers losing their life’s work in some of the most devastating and permanent ways, leaving them distraught and defeated. But, thankfully, I can say the worst I’ve ever had was losing maybe a few too many valuable paragraphs (usually due to always living in areas with brownouts and working from a desktop computer). I have never lost a significant amount of my work before, but the fear of that happening is real – very real! Fear of losing my work is right up there with my fear of losing teeth, June bugs, and lasers (some of my fears are weird). So how have I, who have been writing for 19 years, managed to avoid such calamity? Well, here is my system to ensure you NEVER EVER lose your writing.
So you just finished that manuscript you’ve been working on, and it’s anywhere between 80,000 and 130,000 words. Editing such a large body of written work is quite a task, which is why you need to hire an editor.
Except, in reality, a good editor is very expensive, and a lot of small-time writers can’t afford to pay $600-3000 for a professional editor. (These are averages based on editors with credentials who accept work between 80-130k words.) There are those willing to work for less, but you risk getting what you pay for.
For most poor starving writers, dishing out that kind of cash for professional help is just not within their means, and many of us find that we have to go it alone. If you are one such writer, who has to be a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to editing, there are many ways for you to be a better and more thorough self-editor.
So sit back and let the J share her guide to self-editing!
How do you want to be remembered as a writer? When I think of some of the great literary classics, I think “timeless.” A great work of fiction should speak to anyone from any time. It should explore the human condition and concepts that should resonate throughout the ages. Love, hate, jealousy, revenge, intrigue, mystery, adventure, humor, satire, life, death, etc. People have been using writing and fiction to explore these themes since writing was invented. They’re timeless.
You know what wrecks a piece of fiction and ruins its ability to be timeless? Dated references! Mentioning a current popular song, musician, hairstyle, fashion, buzzword, the latest movie, or the freshest meme. Things that have not yet proven the test of time DO NOT BELONG IN FICTION!
One piece of advice directed towards aspiring writers that drives me nuts is; “write every day.” If you’re a writer who follows other writers, you can’t escape Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest without seeing those lovely inspirational quotes and memes that are constantly touting this same sentiment over and over again. I know many people are going to disagree with me on this, but this is why I think “write every day” is bullshit.