Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writing and Editing: Switching Mindsets

So many of my waking hours are spent writing and editing (and reading). Just how productive I am at those endeavors, however, depends largely on how I allocate my time between them.

Making things more complicated is that some of the work is business world-related (marketing & PR client projects) while I also write and edit fiction. The business side of things often requires more research but the fiction pursuits arguably require a higher sense of polish and exquisite craft if what I write is to be published, and a fine attention to detail if I hope to select the finest submissions as editor of a literary journal or anthology. And there are other factors too, such as upcoming deadlines, how much something is or isn't paying, etc.

It isn't always fun, but I try to keep things at least somewhat rewarding (if not in the fiscal sense then on a personal level). To do so means I must be efficient, and figure out the best way to spend my time writing and editing throughout the day, switching gears whenever necessary. I can generally edit no matter my mood and energy level. The fiction submissions I read are short--by definition (fewer than 2000 words)--and generally entertaining. The only copyediting I do for the journal is usually minimal for the stories I've selected, a few weeks before each quarterly issue. For marketing and PR jobs, though,that can be a different story. Sometimes a client's  "editing" projects involve lots of revising and rewriting, if not restarting from scratch altogether.

Comes time for the writing of more complex business documents such as whitepapers and a fair amount of coffee and concentration become involved. If my mind isn't sharp and energized, a difficult day lies ahead. Worse still, or more challenging still, is the mindset I like to be in when writing fiction. It takes a certain spark to get going on something and then the ability to reignite at regular intervals to keep the momentum alive. It's something that used to come naturally--I could write for days on end as if my life depended on it--but doesn't occur as often as it once did. But when the muse strikes, I'll follow. And drink whatever aperitif or digestif it suggests, listen to whatever new age, jazz or rock tunes will help my writing move further on down the road. Then in the morning I'll give it a critical eye and keep what I can while slicing and dicing what I must.

It's an ongoing process if nothing else. Something that's constantly evolving. And as long as I'm at my desk with  my computer up and running and my brain somewhat engaged, I'll write and I'll edit and trust the results will come.

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