Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sharing a Tip from Barbara McNichol, creator of Word Trippers

Writing and Editing: Wear Two Different Hats by Barbara McNichol ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just as you’d wear a straw-brimmed hat in the sunshine and a rain cap
in the pouring rain, remember the importance of wearing two different
hats when you’re writing versus editing your nonfiction book.
One hat represents the creative process; the other deals with the critical
process. Attempting to edit as you write can dampen your creativity, as I
learned when working with an author recently. Because she was on a fast
track to get her book printed, she had me editing the beginning chapters
while she was still writing the middle and final chapters. She interrupted
her writing flow to give me feedback on the chapters I’d sent back. It
affected her ability to move forward smoothly with her final chapters, plus
we had trouble keeping track of our progress. What frustration!
In retrospect, we needed to put on the brakes and say, “Each task—writing
and editing— demands a separate and specific focus.” Here are three reasons
why:
  • When editing your own work, your mind can fill in, correct, or overlook
    errors. It’s easy to miss things that should be corrected—like missing
    words and inconsistencies.
  • When you put a week or two between completing a draft and reviewing
    it, you break the link between what you thought you wrote and what
    you actually wrote.
  • Once a first draft is finished, if you rush in to evaluate it too quickly,
    you haven’t allowed your brain to “hang out in the shade and cool.”
    That’s when you mentally step back and “see” gaps in information,
    research, and logic. Taking a “big picture” look also enables you to see
    what fits and what doesn’t.
What can you do to separate writing from editing even more?
  • When you reread your work, reformat it by changing the font, margins,
    line spacing, and other elements so it tricks the mind and looks like a
    new document.
  • Keep wearing your creativity hat and go through each chapter asking
    these important questions:

    1.
    Is it complete from a content point of view? What’s missing?
    2.
    Have I included all the facts and stories I want to meet my objectives
    for this chapter?
    3. Can I take out any content that doesn’t fit?
Once you have answered these satisfactorily, you’re ready for the critical
process to take over. While wearing your editing hat, leave behind your
content questions and look for the elements of good writing—style, grammar,
spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and so on. And when you’re ready for
feedback, call in an objective editor who can apply both the creative and
critical process to perfecting your manuscript. 

Barbara McNichol


Barbara McNichol writes and edits articles, nonfiction books, and book proposals for authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She's the creator of Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word when It Really Matters. (www.wordtrippers.com)

She also produces Add Power to Your Pen, a valuable ezine for tips on improving writing. For more information, go to www.BarbaraMcNichol.com or her blog www.nonfictioneditor.com

2 comments:

  1. Great tips. Thanks for sharing. I'll be sure to go and check out the links you shared. Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Susanne, thanks for stopping by. Barbara's newsletters are useful tools.

    ReplyDelete