The best thing you can spend and do for yourself as a writer, is to find an editor. Not just any editor, but an editor that you enjoy talking to, spending large amounts staring a words with, and an editor who doesn’t want to change what you’ve written, but enhances it. A good editor won’t take away your voice, or the way you want to say something, they will work with you and brainstorm with you to make it better.
I found myself such an editor.
As a writer, we can get caught up in our projects. We spend countless hours typing or writing it down. We live in these worlds, with these characters, and can get swallowed up by them. A simple connecting word can get missed, or grammar goes out the window in an effort to get it all down and out of our brains. It’s just the process, but the work comes after, as it should.
Whether you are going to self-publish like myself, or you’re submitting for query with an agent or publishing house, an editor is priceless. They can catch those silly mistakes. They’ll help fix your grammar and be there to say: you’ve used this word 100 times in the last 10 pages, you might want to re-think it. It’s a polishing process that makes your work shiny, especially in an era where autocorrect regularly thinks you are writing “see” when you are writing “sew.” (This may or may not be my biggest autocorrect frustration.)
It also helps that with my fabulous editor, we work line by line. Out loud. I cannot stress how good it is to read your work or have it read to you, out loud. You catch awkward wording. You catch those missed words. I used to do this with all my college essays. My mother (because roommates don’t really want to listen to you read your 30-page research paper) was my sounding board. She’d patiently sit there while I read it, and corrected myself. Novels, admittedly, are very different. I think it helps to have someone not so “in it” as you are to read it.
Is it meticulous? Absolutely.
Does it feel slow? Yes.
But after every session, I feel better and better. You’re leaving behind a shiny product. How can that not feel good?
The moral of the story? Find yourself a bonafide editor. Someone who understands the tricky components of writing and the English (or whatever language you are writing in) language. Take the time to meet your editor and get a feel for each other. You’re going to spend A LOT of time together. You want to like each other and understand each other. I got lucky, I’ll admit, and found a great one on the first try.
Do it for yourself. Do it for your work. And commit to doing it. You’ll look back at it and be incredibly grateful for it.