Can you write and edit two works at the same time?

editing_red_pen1

Can you write and edit two works at the same time? I used to say… maybe. Almost. Not quite. In a pinch. But as a writer with a pretty ambitious production schedule for 2013, I realized that I needed to crack this nut. It’s just not possible to produce very many books a year if you can’t figure out how to change from the “writer” hat to the “editor” hat on a daily basis.

I don’t do any editing while I’m writing. My first draft is literally a first draft. Each day when I start writing, I read the last couple of paragraphs as a reminder and then move on. My first drafts are pretty clean, but there are always typos and spelling mistakes, scenes that need to be added, and a dearth of description. (I’m terrible about forgetting to describe things!) In short, editing needs to happen post-haste.

Right now, I’m editing book 1 of my upcoming YA sci-fi fantasy series while finishing the first draft of book 2. That’s not so bad, since the story is the same. But last year I was editing a Christian historical romance set in the Civil War while writing an action adventure treasure hunt set in the Greek Islands. Two very different stories in every way, and I found it very difficult to move from one to the other. My head would stay in the Civil War while my fingers were trying to pound out action.

When I decided to “get a job” by taking my writing as seriously as I would an outside job, I made a schedule. After talking with my daughter for a while, I determined that, if I could have a good break between my time editing and my time writing I could probably clear my head and concentrate. Consequently, I’ve been taking a one or one and a half hour lunch every work day. If it’s the longer one, I go to the gym, then come home and have lunch and a shower. By the time I get to writing, the morning’s story is long gone. When it’s the shorter lunch, I make sure and read something else, or watch something we’ve recorded on the DVR, or maybe run a couple of quick errands. By the time I get back to work for my “afternoon shift” my mind is clear and I’m finding I can write unhindered.

This is a new schedule for me, and we’ll see what happens when we get closer to warm weather and nice days, two graduations and wedding, and a move… But so far so good, and today’s the only day we can count on, right? How about you? Do you have any tricks for writing and editing? I’d love to hear them!

 

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6 Comments

Filed under Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

6 responses to “Can you write and edit two works at the same time?

  1. Tanya Cienfuegos

    Wow, I don’t think I could do that. My mind is always in some story no matter what. But it sounds like it’s working for you.
    In the NaNoWriMo pep-talk, there was this link included to a blog post all about editing, don’t know if you saw it. http://www.yarnagogo.com/blog/2011/11/how-to-revise-your-novel.html

    She does say that you should print out whatever you’re editing and I think if you’re switching back and forth it would be good for you to do that because then your brain can delineate you’re supposed to be doing like ‘writing is on a screen with a keyboard, editing is on paper with highlighters, post-its and pens’.

    • I do my first couple of edits on paper. I find I start skimming when I do it on the computer. But transferring the edits from the paper to the computer makes my head hurt!

  2. Nice post, Jennings. I agree–it’s difficult to do both. But I really have difficulty when I’m revising my work, working on a new story, AND editing other people’s work (as I am now). Very frustrating. I like your schedule and will seek to emulate it! — David

  3. Good luck!

    I say, now, that I couldn’t do it….but, I guess if I had to šŸ˜‰

    Xx

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