Recently I attended a Mid-Michigan RWA Chapter meeting where the program was on editing. The speaker, Dr. Diana Stout, MFA PhD, is one of MMRWA’s members and besides being a writer has taught college English for several years. During the meeting, she covered punctuation from comma rules to words to avoid.
Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in blogs on the subject of editing. In several of these blogs, the blogger has suggested writers not worry about editing until the rough draft has been written. Diana said the same thing. The reason for this advice is that writing is a creative endeavor (which is a right brain function), while editing is analytical/problem solving (a left brain function).
The theory is if a writer is worried about where a comma should go, or if a sentence needs a semicolon or a colon, the writer won’t be as creative. Therefore, the writer should be creative first and then become analytical. I agree with this, and whenever I’ve talked to writers struggling to finish a book, I’ve told them to write without stopping until they reach the end and then go back and edit.
Good advice, I think.
Except, for me this assumes I can find large blocks of time to write without interruption. That rarely happens. In fact, not many writers, nowadays, have that sort of writing time. Jobs, family obligations, and life in general interrupts our writing time. I feel lucky if I can get a page or two written before my husband steps into the room and says, “I’m not interrupting, am I?”
When that happens, whether it’s just a question he needs answered or a reminder that we need to do something, the creative flow stops. When I return to what I was writing, I need to get back into that flow, so I either re-read what I wrote prior to the interruption or I go back even farther. That’s when my left brain clicks in, and I see those sentences that could be reworded, the commas that are missing, etc. So my writing is a forward and back and forward again progression.
But maybe that’s just me. Every left brain/right brain test I’ve taken, I’ve registered near the middle. I’m slightly more right brain than left, which may be why I majored in art and minored in math while in college.
I know I should simply move forward with my story, not even worry about misspelled words or punctuation, but I can’t stop myself. I keep trying to write straight through, but I always fail. Yet, somehow I’ve managed to get 30 books written and published. So, if you’re like me, and you’ve been told to simply write the book and then go back and edit, but you can’t do that, just remember: THERE ARE NO RULES. Do what works for you.
Some argue that the right brain/left brain theory has no scientific evidence to back it, but it certainly fits me. Ever wondered how you might fit on the right brain/left brain scale? Here are a few sites with quizzes.