On editing

by scotslawstudent

“Editing is just like writing, except hateful, and in reverse. Instead of birthing words and ideas out of nothing, you’re murdering them in cold blood, culling them like sickly sheep weakening the flock.”

Robert Brockway, Cracked.com

One of the most shocking tips I ever got for producing decent written work for uni was to spend half as long again on editing as I did on writing. Thankfully that doesn’t include research time.

Half as long again. Yup.

There are three big stages in written work: research, writing, editing. In larger pieces of work these steps are even iterative.

Editing is one of the stages that I feel has the most potential for grabbing marks from so it’s worth your time. I often found that I’d leave assignments to the last minute and, looking at deadlines and editing seems temptingly optional at that point. In my experience it’s rarely a good idea. Beyond feeling like a luxury intended for more organised people it also hurts to delete words that don’t fit. I compromise by having a clippings file where I keep bits of what I’ve written that didn’t make it in the final submission. It’s a depressingly large file.