Why You Shouldn't Edit While You Write | Guest Post

by - April 05, 2019

Hey friends! Today, I've asked a fellow YDubber and blogger, Bella Putt, to guest post on my blog! I know you'll find good advice from Bella! Be sure to check out her blog!


A couple years ago, I got a great idea for a story. I worked on it occasionally, pouring my whole heart and soul into the plot and characters, wanting it to be absolutely perfect. But my perfectionist ways brought on a serious mistake.

Each time I sat down to work on the story, I found something wrong with it, or I wanted to add a new idea. I was constantly rewriting most of what I had already written instead of moving on to later chapters.

I wouldn't stop editing.

The first few chapters of that book went through numerous drafts. They were good, yes. But in the end, what did it matter? True, the chapters got better each time they were rewritten, and overall it was great practice for me, but the story never got further than those first few chapters.

If I learned anything from trying to write that book, it was this:

Editing while writing keeps you from moving forward.

About a year ago, I put that project away. I came up with a new story idea, plotted and outlined for a couple months (yes, I am a very detailed plotter XD), and then began writing.

But this time, I didn’t once go back to edit. I continued writing, no matter how bad the words and sentences that tumbled onto the paper. And you know what? I finished the first draft of that story not long ago with over 100,000 words!

By not editing as I wrote the first draft, I was able to complete a project. I finished something. Yes, some of the stuff I wrote in that first draft was terrible (so bad I won’t even let other people look at it), but I got it done.

And with the first draft—what I call the ‘skeleton’ or ‘structure’ of the story—written, all I had to do was go back and turn my awful writing into a beautiful story.

Back with that first writing project, I kept getting new ideas I thought I had to include in the story right then. I thought I had to get the wording perfect. But while writing my most recent story, I learned that it’s best to ignore the bad wording (or new ideas) and wait. If ever I got a new idea while writing the story, I wrote it down on a scratch piece of paper so that I wouldn’t forget it. I could then incorporate it into the story during edits. I also learned to ignore the rough wording so that I could change it into beautiful prose later.

If I had gone back to write my new ideas into the story every time I got a new idea, I would never have finished the first draft. If I had gone back to fix all the bad wording instead of waiting for the editing stage, I would never have gotten anywhere.

That said, the point I’m trying to make is this:

Don’t edit while you write.

I can’t stress the point enough. If you edit while you’re writing, you’ll never get anywhere. There’s no point editing while you’re still in the writing stage. You must wait until the editing stage to edit.

I hope my personal experience has taught you that editing while you write will be your greatest mistake. Yes, it may be hard at first to stop editing and work solely on moving your story forward (especially for the perfectionists out there XD). But once you stop editing and focus on moving forward with your story, trust me, you’ll be so involved in writing the rest of your story, you won’t even have the urge to go back and edit.

I want to end this post with a quote that has consistently inspired me, and I hope it will inspire you:

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” -Jodi Picoult


About the author:

Writing is one of Bella Putt’s favorite things to do, along with running and reading. At fourteen, she’s been writing for about six years and hopes to someday be a published author. Her writing projects include a novel and writing on her blog. You can find her blog here, where she writes poetry, shares tips on writing, does book reviews, and more.





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5 comments

  1. This is actually really encouraging! I always need the reminder to just let the chapters I’ve already written go and push on through the story—so true, you can’t edit a blank page!!

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    1. Yay, I'm so glad it encouraged you, Kassie! And yes, that's one of my favorite quotes! :D

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    2. I'm so glad it was helpful! 😊

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  2. My teacher also discourages us from writing and editing, but sometimes I can't help it when I'm on a submission deadline. I try not to do it when leisure writing, though.

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    1. I know! It can be SO difficult to keep yourself from editing! But just knowing that you can go back and edit later is a huge relief.
      If you're interested, there's a site that might help you. The Most Dangerous Writing App: https://www.themostdangerouswritingapp.com/ :D

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