Saturday, 1 March 2014

Editing - follow your gut feeling.

Over the last few weeks I have been giving a lot of feedback in a variety of forms. At university I am supervising several students who are about to hand in their ECPs (Extended Creative Project or dissertation to the rest of you) and last week I did some one-to-ones with some fabulous Golden Eggers during The Art of Story workshop (which is where the photo was taken).

On several occasions I have had conversations that have gone something like this:
Me: 'I think you need to work is not quite working.'
Writer: 'Yes, I knew that but I was ignoring it, you are quite right though, I'm going to change it. Now you've said it too I really know I need to change it.'
But that's it, it is hard to have enough confidence in your gut feeling to follow it. But invariably, and I know I have said this before, it is right. If something is niggling at you do it, make the change. Be brave and you might be surprised by the result. You will more than likely have a stronger manuscript for it. It is something I have learnt through experience. There have been times where I have been the one on the other side of that conversation with my toes curling in embarrassment as IC suggests I get rid of something that I have known for ages is not working...if only I'd got rid of it earlier and followed that gut instinct.

However precious a piece of writing is, if the voice at the back of your head is saying it doesn't fit in, you have to take it out. A real case of  'killing your darlings.' Sometimes very painful - but don't delete these little gems have a document entitled 'Darlings' and deposit them in there, you never know you might just be able to use them somewhere else. See no writing is ever wasted!

I am thinking of getting stamps created with 'show not tell' and 'don't info dump'. These are things I have been talking about over and over again. The importance of leaving clues for your reader so they can create their own picture from your narrative but also trusting them to be able to work out what you suggesting without handing them everything on the plate. Look at your manuscript and think are you guilty of these things?

It is a very interesting time for me at the moment as they have changed the drugs I take to prevent migraine. One of the side effects of the new drug is word blindness. This is not ideal for someone who is so reliant on words! There have been several gold fish moments as I stand there mouth flapping as I try desperately to think of the word I need. It has made me realise quite how important words are to me and how I take my vocab for granted. What happens if we have no language to express ourselves? This has been part of the reason I have been a bit quiet on this blog. Word blindness impacts on all parts of your life. Am hoping I am finding coping strategies now so will be back.

My sound track of the week is especially for my gorgeous daughter. It was our song for a long time and I know she will understand why I have chosen this for her this week.  It is the Lighthouse Family  with High


  1. thanks, Vanessa - oh I like the sound of a 'Darlings Document' - so much kinder to keep the precious little ones in a safe place. Sorry to hear you have been so troubled. I hope things continue to improve for you.

    1. Thank you Sue, am hoping they will too. I like the idea that those carefully crafted words have somewhere to go and often go in there for inspiration when I am stuck.

  2. As usual, excellent advice that I know I'll refer back to. I'm not at the editing stage yet but I'll keep this for when I am. Hope you get your medication sorted so the words keep coming! xxx

    1. Thank you Sue, as always such a fantastic support. Good luck with the writing x