Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Editing: My brain hurts already

A lot of people hate editing. For pantsers like myself, it's particularly challenging. Because half the time we don't even remember what's in there, let alone have any idea of what we should be tweaking, tightening, expanding, or just plain ripping to shreds. You know how in Nanowrimo they tell you to ignore your internal editor? I think mine died of neglect. 

Anyway, here is a list of things I absolutely cannot do without when editing:

1. Pyjama Pants

Elastic waistband and stretchy material. Oh yes. I’m here for the long haul.
Socks, if it is winter. Fuzzy ones.

2. iTunes.

I can’t possibly work without my uber-depressing playlist “Music To Slash Your Wrists To”.  Highlights include Beggar’s Prayer by Emiliana Torrini, Into My Arms by Nick Cave, and The Last Day on Earth by Kate Miller-Heidke.

My playlist is a depressant, but writing is a high, so it kind of balances out in the end.

3. Caffeine

Perhaps I wouldn’t need so much of this stimulant if my music wasn’t a depressant, but there you go!

4. Small breaks

Before I develop that thing you get on long plane trips.

5. The internet

So I can look up that thing you get on long plane trips. Deep vein thrombosis. See, the day's not wasted! I learned something! 

Also, I need the internet so I can check Facebook every couple of minutes, play silly games, try to answer free personality tests in the persona of famous historical dictators, and generally distract myself from doing anything productive. I need two computers. One for work, and one for play. And the one for play needs to be broken.

Also, how come I’ve never been diagnosed with a Napoleon complex when I was pretending to be Napoleon the whole time? 

6. My plastic Roman.

Just because.

Lucius mightn't look like much, but he once slaughtered a whole village of barbarian Lego pirates, Dora the Explorer and a T-Rex before breakfast. He's that hard. Don't cross him. 


  1. I gotta ask for a translation of “pansters.” I thought it might be Australian, but Google Translate didn’t help.

    Your uber-depressing iTunes / Caffeine mix reminds me of a line from Michael Herr:

    I knew one 4th division Lurp who took his pills by the fistful, downs from the left pocket of his tiger suit and ups from the right, one to cut the trail for him and the other to send him down it.

    And finally, this is perfect:

    I need two computers. One for work, and one for play. And the one for play needs to be broken.

  2. This list works for just writing too if you're ADHD like me.
    Your Plastic Roman is a keeper.

    The ignored inner editor does get even. It takes you beyond "What the heck was I saying" right into "What language is THAT?"

  3. Hi MC! Pantser is some slang I've picked up around the writing boards. There are plotters, who plot, and pantsers, who fly by the seat of the pants...

    Mary, I know my inner editor will come back with a vengeance, crawling from the grave like a B-Grade zombie! She will have her revenge on the living...

  4. Okay, so I have fixed up the type that I didn't even notice. See what an awesome editor I am! Let me just add to the list:

    7. EYES!

  5. So funny! There's no denying the labour of editing. The great thing about it is how much stronger it makes your work.

    When you first bash out your novel you're proud (rightly so) that's it's finished, but you know there are things that need correcting.

    I filled an entire notebook on changes that I needed to make when editing my first novel, and even months later still found things that I needed to improve.

    and yep, comfy clothes, cups of tea, music or podcasts - all these make the process much easier!

  6. Thanks, D!

    The worst thing I've found is that you have a great idea, you turn it into a thing you love, you cherish it for about a minute, and then you mercilessly tear it limb from limb in editing!



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