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Do you know when to stop rewriting? Editor's Notes 86
March 31, 2010

Have no fear of perfection--you'll never reach it.
--Salvador Dali

In this issue:

1. When to stop rewriting
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site

There's the little niggling voice in the back of my mind, then there's the feedback from subscribers. When the two agree, it's time to make a change.

I hate to interrupt a series before it's done, but if a particular series is not of personal interest, subscribers feel left out.

So, in this issue I'm taking a break from the series on the uses of a Web site for writers to talk about something more directly related to writing itself. In mid-April, we'll return to the topic of Web sites.

1. When to stop rewriting
Writers often contact me to ask when they should stop rewriting and say, Enough is enough.

First off, let's clarify that here I'm not talking about the writing you do to a schedule. If you have a real deadline, you certainly don't go beyond it. Today was the deadline for an assignment, so ready or not, I submitted my work. I'm not totally pleased with what I sent, but in this case, others are in charge of the publication, and they have reasons for their deadlines. I did the best I could with the time I had. I put a period to the project and moved on.

But when a writer is involved in a more creative endeavor and there is no externally imposed deadline, how is one to know when to stop pulling the work apart?

Perfection will elude us, so let's not dream of that goal. Instead, let's go for the best we can do. I'll do my best, you'll do yours.

You'll know you have your best when you can't make any additional improvements.

Here's how I handle the rewriting task:
Read the finished manuscript in hard copy making notes of needed changes.
Key in the changes. At this point, I will often see other changes I need to make because of the ones I've just made. I include them, too.
Reread the text in hard copy making notes of needed changes.
Key in the changes.
Repeat this process until there is not even one change to make.
Put the text away for at least a week.
If I still can't find anything to make it better, I'm done.

This doesn't mean the text is done. It means I can't make it better. It's time to let others give me feedback. That's another topic for another day.

But if you have really done everything you can do with your writing project and want a second set of eyes, submit your work for a sample edit.


2.Tickled my funnybone
If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.


3. Interesting Web site
The Federation of BC Writers will be of most interest to writers from BC, but it has information for other writers as well.


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