Writing vs editing

In Editing by Malini Devadas

The advent of the word processor means that we can ‘fiddle with the text’ (technical term!) as much as we like while drafting. That’s all well and good, but not when the story isn’t clear, the logic is faulty or you’ve only written 300 words of a 5000-word grant application.

So, allow me to let you in on a little (not-so-secret) secret used by publishing professionals the world over: writing and editing are two different processes and should be done separately. Just to recap, writing and editing are two different processes. Do not try to edit each sentence as you write it. All you will end up doing is losing track of the story you are trying to tell while agonising over whether you really need that comma.

I teach my clients a seven-step process for writing their journal articles and grant applications. The first four steps focus on creating the story (that is, writing the draft). The second three steps focus on polishing the expression (that is, editing the text). When you approach your writing in this type of systematic way, you allow yourself to concentrate on specific tasks, which is a much more efficient use of your time.

In short, make sure your story is logical and complete before you start fiddling with it.

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