Nineteen: Editing Blocks

Planted: Thursday 11/11/2021
Last Tended: Thursday 11/11/2021

A lot of people talk about writing blocks. How they sit down at their desk and words to do not flow and the pages stay empty. I don't have that problem. Once it's time for me to write, my fingers move[1]. What I do struggle with is editing[2]. I usually edit as I write. I will write a sentence or paragraph or even a few pages, pause and then go back from the beginning, refine my thoughts, cut some sections out, add something new, etc. I put down the document for a couple of hours or days and I return to proofread for clarity and errors and then I'm ready to submit.

When I complete a document and then someone returns it to me with feedback or suggestions for edits, I get stuck. I can't even count how many half finished publications I have saved because I didn't know how to edit the documents. The only way I know how to edit, is to completely start over. I did that with my dissertation and research publications and my advisor would wonder why things were taking me so long. It's because I would start over. Go back to the literature, reread articles, make an outline, and write an entirely new document with an entirely new thesis and premise (I have about 3 started dissertation topics that I did deep dives on).

I'm struggling right now to edit the extended abstract because I don't know how to edit it. For me, I wrote what I wrote and I meant what I said. If I have new thoughts, I will write something new.

It's interesting that this dawned on me today because a few days ago when I was reflecting on the design of the digital garden[3], I struggled with the idea of tending to an exisiting note. To use the analogy of gardening, if I need to make changes, I just pull the entire plant out (it's a weed to me now) or I leave it alone, abandoned. Then I just create something new. Dig up the hole, take out the plant and start over.

Sometimes I might use something that I wrote already and mix and match words I've created, but most of the time I start over.

Sometime, I will go through my notebook and find ideas and thoughts that I started and then let go because I didn't really know how to edit. So many unfinished writings or finishing writings that never saw the light of day. Is this what it means to be a writer? Not everything gets published?

When people say they had 18 major revisions before they completed a book. For me it's either I did nothing because I edit as I go or I wrote something new about 18 times.

Is that what editing is? Knowing me, this weekend will be spent doing a deep dive on how to edit and the meaning of editing.

All I know is that a lot of times when I procrastinate when it comes to writing. It's not because I have writer's block. I have tons of ideas, it's because I don't know what to do and I am completely overwhelmed with the idea of editing because to me that means starting over. And I spend hours and days researching, sketching, and crafting my thoughts. To be told I need to make edits overwhelms me because that means I need to spend hours researching, outlining, sketching, and crafting my thoughts. Again.



You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

More from Lisa-Marie
All posts