Since the new year, I’ve written early in the morning, every day, usually for an hour or two. Aside from my blog posts (which I write on the weekends) and work articles (which I write during the day), my total writing output for the year stands at far less than 1,000 words.
What have I been doing? Why don’t I have anything tangible to show for my efforts?
The answer is simple, I’ve been editing. Editing is tedious. Editing requires gumption. Editing demands focus. And editing is required.
I liken the process of producing a book for a home construction project. Writing my first draft is like framing in a wall. Progress is fast; the project takes shape; satisfaction follows with ease.
Doing the final edit is like sanding the final coat of drywall compound to finish a wall. It makes a mess, induces boredom, and necessitates patience. Without the proper attention to detail, I urge this step forward too quickly, which becomes obvious to all in the finished product, be it a painted wall or a printed book. A lack of diligence in this stage results in embarrassment later.
So for six weeks, I’ve been editing my work. First were a couple of miscellaneous projects, then a short story for a contest. Lately, I’ve been editing blog posts from my first blog, “The Musings of Peter DeHaan,” to make into a book, codenamed Woodpecker Wars.
Then, having just received feedback from my editor, on Monday I’ll start another round of edits on my book 52 Churches. Then I’ll do the same for its prequel God, I Don’t Want to Go to Church. After that will be final edits on a revision of my dissertation The Convergent Church. Then I plan to rework it into a more accessible book for normal people, like you and me. And then are two more rewrites lined up for past academic work. And there’s more.
The disheartening reality is that I’ll spend all of 2014 in editing mode. But editing is a critical part of writing, a step we dare not skip.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.