Editing: laundry style

Those of you who know me get that laundry is my nemesis.  If somebody came out with affordable, disposable clothing, I’d be the first to buy.  If I could, I would hire Dobby and pay him handsomely in socks–clean ones, not those recycled from the dog–and my life would be great.

But no, every morning it’s the same thing.  “Mom, where’s my sweatshirt?”  “Mom, I need my baseball pants.”  “Mom, I have no clean socks.”  “Mo-om.”

In my defense, most of these much-needed items are in a pile on their bedroom floors.  Floors I do not pick up to make sure I have sweatshirts and socks and baseball pants.  Floors I can’t see until my darling children scoop up armfuls of clothes which they dump, unceremoniously, into the over-flowing laundry baskets.  And expect that now–right now–their socks (minus the dog-eaten ones) and sweatshirts and baseball pants will be clean.

We do that as writers, too.  We litter our floors with little mistakes–a secondary character who goes nowhere, a plot that stops, a flat MC, dumpy dialogue–and happily keep writing, ignoring the detritus until we need, Need, NEED a clean manuscript–like a baseball shirt two hours before the big game.

Everybody has their own laundry editing methods. 

  1. Some edit as they write, changing front chapters to match twists in the second half of a manuscript.  This would be the every day washer–yeah, DH, I’m lookin’ at you.   The only drawback to this method is that sometimes we get so wrapped up editing that we never finish the story.
  2. Others wait until their WIP is done before going back and methodically sorting out the jeans from the whites, each editing pass targeting a different aspect.   While this seems like a balanced approach, it can take vast amounts of time to edit one manuscript.
  3. And still more simply scoop up the entire mess off the floor and power wash their stories all at once.  This is a fine approach that works well for some writers–for instance, those who wrote from an outline–but may feel overwhelming to others. 

I’m a wait-until-the-last-second washer, but a sort-and-edit kind of writer. 

How about you?  What works about your approach?  What doesn’t?

Now where are those baseball pants…?


10 responses to “Editing: laundry style

  1. I manage to wait until my WIP is done before sorting. However, I’m kind of wishing I had made a few major changes before the revision. I knew they needed to be made (laundry items that you know need to be done on a certain day), but I ploughed ahead instead. Now I’m finding myself with even more laundry than I imagined. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. I have to throw all the clothes on the laundry room floor (write the whole rough draft) then painstakingly sort out the colors (plot structure) whites (intimate character details and inner thoughs) towels (world building) and brights (wordsmithing/polishing).

    No wonder it takes me forever to finish anything . . .

    • LOL! Including the laundry!

      I’m the same as you, though. I write fast and by the seat of my pants, then must methodically sort through my manuscript searching for a stray white in the red pile.

  3. I do a combination of editing things…sometimes I call my thorough editing “tweaking.”

    But when I’ve written a chapter or two, I will reread them before starting to write again the next day, just to grab those typos and small mistakes. The more thorough editing/rewriting comes later.

    And then there’s more rewriting after sending the work to various “readers.”

    Thanks for sharing….

    • Thanks for commenting. It’s always nice to know how other writers work. Sometimes I envy the quieter process that others seem to enjoy. Write, tweak, write, edit, write. It sounds so much more relaxing!

  4. I always write extensive outlines first (usually about 10 pages), and I find that helps me considerably when it comes to editing. I can see where things need to move and shift stuff around.

    While I do edit a little while writing the rough draft, I’m definitely more of a power-washer type editor 🙂

    • Your whole writing process is amazing to me. I am in awe of your outlining skills and have seen the result of your power-washing. Good stuff, MK!

  5. Cat,
    Very well-said. Oddly, my blog today is on the same subject. (Writer’s guilt, not dog eating socks though my step-son has a new puppy and “they” have moved back home.)

    Yours is much better stated than mine,, but I thought it funny we both blogged about the same topic. Great minds and all that.


    • Hi, Kay.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Now that I’m back on the computer, I’ll hop over and check out the other half of my great mind!

      Hugs and hope the pup and son thing works out. I applaud anyone willing to open their home to a pet. Not easy to do–especially when the pet isn’t yours!

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