Editing takes forever
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I would try and set some time aside to finally finish something. It didn’t go according to plan, but in trying to carry on in what little time I had, something really hit me – editing takes AGES!
I guess that comes as no real surprise, and I knew it already. But I had never felt it as acutely as I did on Sunday.
Half hour hiccup
Due to various things going wrong throughout the day, my juicy two hour window of editing had shrunk, shrunk and shrunk again down to half an hour. This upset me quite a bit. I was now down to the equivalent time I would have on a train journey home during the week.
Now, I can write in half an hour. In fact I find it difficult to concentrate on writing in longer spans than this, possibly because I have become so used to my train writing time. Editing though is a completely different barrel of eels.
When edit, it means I do a lot of reading, then trying something, then more reading, then mulling it over, swapping some words around, adding a bit, taking it out again immediately… I’m in the work, but I’m pulling and tugging at it, working it into a shape I can be happy with.
It is as laborious as it sounds (if that sounded dynamic and exciting, I apologise – it was a dirty lie), and it requires concentration. If you’ll allow me the indulgence of metaphor, then writing is drifting off to sleep and editing is struggling to stay awake.
I therefore need some time to get to that level of concentration before I can get some serious work done. And I need space for my mind to play with the fragments. Diving in for shirt spells just isn’t cutting it!
It has got to the point where I feel like even trying to edit in these short spells is a waste of time. I am conscious when i start that I will not get enough done to feel satisfied and that nagging sensation that I should be doing something else will begin to take over.
Worse, this bitesize editing might be counter productive. I can imagine a scenario when, having gone through my whole document in this way, I finally read it all through and realise I have a lot more work ahead of me. Much of my editing may be missing the point because I’m not giving the process the room it deserves.
So on Monday, after my failed editing attempt of the previous day, I opened my laptop on the train and thought, “I shouldn’t be doing this. I should be writing.”
The write environment for the write task
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m drawing a line right here. No more editing sessions on the train. It’s not right for me.
So, the plan is broadly similar to how it was in the first place, but slightly refined, and with a dedication to apply it to all future projects. Setting aside time to edit a project and get it finished stays. Editing in little bursts goes. From now on when I finish a draft, I set up some time to edit it later, but immediately start something new on my train journeys.
BOOM! Never knew I could be so decisive did ya?