Some new writers don’t realize that what they’ve written needs more than words spelled correctly. They write it, read through it once, and consider it done. They may even think, “Maybe someone needs to look at it just in case I missed a comma or two.” Here’s another quote you might wish to take to heart:
When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. — Enrique Jardiel Poncela
. . . Or, it’s at least a fair number of hours spent on revisions. It’s rare that I don’t spend several hours revising a 600-word (or less) article I’ve written, after I’ve put it aside overnight. The more you do this, the better and somewhat faster you become; but a fact is a good job takes as long as it takes.
A few words about editing: we usually write to either entertain or inform. To even consider becoming a writer, we have to feel passionate about what we choose to share with others. This means in some way, we write from our heart. This is why our egos might feel bruised if an editor suggests we change something (or lots of somethings) about what we’ve written and poured ourselves into. With publishers, if you don’t follow their suggestions, they may drop your contract. If you self-publish, you have total control over everything; but you really do want to make sure you offer a quality product.
I helped one client with a non-fiction book that ended up being nearly 400 pages long. He felt it was ready to go to the formatter, though he understood I needed to read through it with my editor’s cap on. He said, “I read it in about four hours, so it shouldn’t take you longer than that to work on it.”
Well, it took 43 hours to go through that draft and make all the (necessary) changes. The total number of hours it took to get it to publish-ready copy might astonish you, so I won’t tell you (he added new content until the day before it went to print). Consider this: When was the last time you read a comprehensive 400-page book in 4 hours, or 6? And, that didn’t involve looking at it for ways you could or needed to improve it.
I can’t fault him for this assumption. It’s tempting to read narcissistically (in love with what you’ve written and yourself for writing it) rather than as an editor would and must. This is why I recommend putting your piece aside for at least a day before you read it again. Sometimes what thrilled you when you wrote it causes you to cringe when you read it. It’s also called evolving; and you and what you write evolve together.
Once you write and publish your first creative or professional work, you’ll begin to appreciate this part of the writing process because your goal will be to do the most excellent job you can with your material.
An editor’s role, and this includes you as the writer, is to focus attention on content from the perspective of readers and the writer. When I work on behalf of a client (and their readers) I can’t afford to speed through it the way my client did. Since you’re serious about your writing career neither can you.