How Someone Else’s Brain Can Make You A Better Writer

How was your weekend? I don’t make a habit of asking people how their Monday was. And don’t worry, I’m not going to start now (although I did have an unexpected family visit—very cool).

All right, let’s get to it.

Last week, I talked about handing in the edits for a book I’m working on (I’m editing, not authoring). Those edits cover the first one-third of the text. I talked about what a relief it was.

And then I totally forgot about that section of the book, and went to work on the second leg of the manuscript—as if that first part didn’t exist.

Well, yesterday, I got back the author’s notes on my edits.

And that’s the reason why I wanted to blog about this editing gig in the first place…

It offers an inside look at what the editing process is like.

It covers a facet of writing that’s involved with writing, and doesn’t involve a lot of actual writing

Oh…

And not to mention I totally DIDN’T discuss how to address the author’s feedback with the project manager for this book.

The author shifted some things around from the version I sent him, and so I adjusted to meet those changes—mostly word changes (including a typo that was a totally different word that spell-check wouldn’t have caught), and a few design changes (which I’ll have to speak to him, and the project manager, about).

We’re looking to get the author’s message across, where to cut, where to add, how best to keep the readers reading, and so on.

Which means that this cycle:

my edits

author feedback

re-edit

more feedback

continue on

will keep going with the other parts until the book is done.

Kinda like a literary version of Texas Hold ‘Em, or something–or tennis (with everyone on the same team). Only the book’s the ball and…better stop–this is starting to get weird.

I want to zero in on how I felt after I sent in the first edits, for a bit.

I took comfort in the fact that “that part is somebody else’s problem…” at least for now.

It was on somebody else’s mind.

As a writer, things really hit home for me, here, but this time proved to be a different angle to the same point.

What if you don’t have that? What if you can’t hand your what-have-ya file (story, novel, email copy) off to somebody else, and have THEIR brain work it out? Well, there are some alternatives (besides getting someone else’s brain sewn into your skull):

1. You can let the work sit for a few days. It seems like rehashed info, and it might be—if it didn’t work. But there are different ways to approach this. If you have a deadline, you’ve got a whole lot less wiggle room on this—maybe only time for a walk around the block, a fifteen minute workout, or what-have-ya. Just do something to get your mind off of your work…something that relaxes you, even if that’s only 10 minutes. If you’ve got more time than that, fine.

2. You can send it off to a critique partner. Some folks don’t have a group or an individual they trust with their manuscripts, stories, or copy (or WANT to trust—a bit of a separate issue). But if you DO have someone that will be objective, and help you get better with your writing (provided you ask questions that prod them in the right direction), let them have a crack at it. While you make use of the ultimate solution…

3. While doing #1 or #2 above, you can go do something else. I mean other work—writing, editing, or something else like that. A new story, email draft, character sketch, or something else. If it’s new, old, or in-between, spend some time with it. Not exactly watching TV—I know. I’m guilty of it. We can all be better and do more (most of us).

Even if that means pretending (mentally) that we have the use of someone else’s brain when we don’t.

There’s a certain line between relaxing and goofing off…but that’s a subject for another post, or two.

Have YOU ever had the urge to make use of someone else’s brain so you could get more done or get ahead with your writing, editing, or critiquing?

And if you’ve gotten anything out of this post, make sure to drop me a line in the comments.

Until next time,

Ty

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About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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