Recently, I wrote about how gentle Alice Duncan was in editing Faith On The Rocks. She wrote encouraging notes throughout the manuscript and changed single words in the way good chefs sprinkle in spices without overwhelming the food. There were very few “you need to rewrite here” comments, and I charged in to the editing process with enthusiasm.
After more than six months of not seeing this particular story on the screen in front of me, I decided to read the thing beginning to end. What an eye-opening experience! I had the chance to see the story as a reader might–with fresh expectant eyes.
Part of me wants to go back and rewrite the whole thing again. The business side of me says I have only a week before I hit the deadline, and only an hour here and there to work on this. The question becomes, “how can I complete the edits in time and make the best changes to the story?”
Enter my own hero–my husband. This good man has been developing software for close to four decades now. His programs for ERP* systems and iPad apps need to work and work well for people. Over the years, I noticed he has a great “editing” process.
One of the things my good guy does before anything else, is to open an e-mail to himself. This is not to either berate himself or give pep-talks. It has no superfluous language. The e-mail is a brain dump of the things he sees that need changing.
This is particularly bright, because the temptation (especially in Word, where I’m working) is to make a comment right at the spot and move on. The problem with this editing style is that you end up scrolling up and down forever looking for the note you “knew” you wrote someplace. The e-mail is a quick note of what action needs to be taken, and a page number where that need lays.
By making the notes in an e-mail, you don’t loose anything. I came to realize that if I don’t delete the line when the task is complete (my first temptation in this process), I have a record of major tasks completed, so I know where I am in the editing process all along. I love organized approaches to projects!
Right now my e-mail has eight tasks marked “DONE,” six items to add to my Daisy Bible, and one more section to rewrite. For those who love the feeling of crossing off items from a to-do list, typing the word “done” in all caps gives that same feeling of accomplishment. And with the word processing capabilities of e-mail text these days, you can rearrange your list to put most pressing to-do items at the top.
Going to let you go for now. I have a half-hour of free time left, and I want to knock off one or two more action items. Thanks for sharing time with me today.
*ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning – a term that encompasses all business software for an organization – accounting, inventory, sales etc.