This is a post I submitted to Elora Nicole’s Story Sessions in 2014 on writing and editing. I’ve hosted it here, as it is no longer available online. Enjoy.
Art is sacred. Whatever form of art you create, know that in your hands it is sacred. It is a gift. My art is my words. I have been writing for a while now, words no eye would ever see. I only wrote for me, that is, until my world was wrecked.
In 2013 I joined brave women in the Story 101 ecourse. It was the first time I’d ever been a part of a group of writers. It gave me courage, community, and something my writing needed – audience, room for embrace, and critique.
At the beginning of the course, it was about voice, owning it, breaking the shame, and letting one’s life speak. The more I got involved in the story community, the more I grew to accept criticism without taking it personal. I can’t tell you how or when it happened, but it was a good thing for my heart and my writing.
The moment your writing has an audience, there’s an invitation to connect and resonate with readers. It’s no longer just about you. I love what my story coach, Elora, has said many times: “the first draft you write from your heart; the second draft you write with your head.” What a relief to hear!
It’s so true. Let the words come from your depths, don’t censor yourself, at least not yet. Maybe some things won’t make the final draft, but let every word pour its spirit across the page. Your whole heart wants to be heard. When it’s time, your head will be ready to rewrite.
Editing helps us to make words count. Sometimes you don’t need the extra fluff or the gory glory before the real story. Sometimes our verbosity emasculates our message. There were many times I thought I wouldn’t be able to live with cutting out phrases, sentences, or whole paragraphs. Each word was a treasure to me, little strands of pearls and pain. Learning to part ways with words that didn’t work in my writing was and still is healthy.
I have decided I don’t want to discourage, frustrate or confuse readers. I don’t want my art to suffer needlessly. For love of editing, I tuck away those word nuggets as a way honoring my life experience.
Pruning a sentence here or striking dead a sentence there isn’t a reflection of the your heart or even your ability. Instead, it is a reminder to treat your art as sacred. It is a remembrance that when you hit “publish,” it’s no longer about you. It’s about all the many sets of eyes and souls beholding your art.
Your writing will be more powerful as you engage in making your words matter. Get comfortable with editing. Let your heart and head work together. Be willing to consider the audience point of view.
Editing is not your enemy. She is your secret weapon, the one who eloquently pierces yet heals.