Remember, life isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. You win by taking things one step at a time.
As writers, we all know how crucial the editing process is when it comes to improving our work. Without editing, you’re left with a bloated, mistake filled manuscript. But it’s not just your writing that needs a good editing pass.
While we tend to be very critical of our own work, we are much more lax when it comes to our real lives. We’ll let mistakes slide even though we’d never do the same with our writing. Maybe we stick with bad relationships or worse jobs. Perhaps we refuse to change our poor diets and an won’t exercise. There are plenty of things we can change for the better. But for whatever reasons, we don’t. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here are five ways you can edit problems out of your life-like a writer.
5. Stay On Topic
When writing, it’s easy to get distracted from the main story. We all have had new ideas mid-story which caused us to veer of course. It’s easy to get in the habit of bouncing around from new idea to new idea, ultimately stalling progress of the story. And in the end, we only finish our work when we stick to the topic at hand and cast aside all these new ideas.
The same problem occur in our real lives, too. We create a plan for ourselves and things start off well enough. But at some point we get hit with different obstacles or events that distract us. And instead of continuing on our set plan, we veer off course and end up in situations or positions we never wanted. But you can avoid all of that if you just stick to the course, tackle obstacles as they come, and move forward in the direction you set for yourself. It’ll take diligence, but don’t let distractions derail your life.
4. Bring In Someone To Give You A Different Perspective
When you’re finished with your first draft and have completed the first editing pass, you send your work off to beta readers. This is so you can get some fresh eyes on the work and receive honest feedback on what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs changed. Other people can see things in your work that you can’t because you’re too close to it. And the same thing goes for real life as well.
Whenever we encounter a problem in the real world, it’s our first instinct to do whatever we can to make it go away as quickly and efficiently as possible. But when it’s something more complicated than that, we tend to stress out and our problem solving skills go right to hell. That’s when you should bring someone else into the mix to give you a fresh perspective on the issue. Whether it be a friend, family member, or even a coworker, a person unaffected by the situation will be able to look at it with a clear mind and give you more logical solutions. Never fear asking someone to give you a second opinion on something.
3. Cut The Fat
Us writers know what it means to cut the fat. It’s when you remove all of the extra unneeded parts of your story. It could be as simple as trimming the word count down to clear up some unnecessary muck. Or it could be taking out whole sections of the story that bog down the pacing and don’t add anything to the plot. And you know what? This cutting of excess should be done to your real life, too.
Start simple: if you’re the type of person who over-commits to things and never has time for yourself, cut out the extra fat. Don’t agree to attend every party or work function that comes up. Most of the stuff that eats up your time probably doesn’t even benefit you in any meaningful way. Clearing the extra stuff from your schedule will reduce stress and give you some breathing room to enjoy life more.
Once you’re done reorganizing your schedule, start cutting out the other things holding you down. Are you in a bad, unfulfilling relationship? Cut it. Does your job make you miserable beyond belief? Find another one and get the hell out of there.
There are plenty of things we stick with out of habit. And just like writers, we trick ourselves into thinking we need them. Do all of your stories need a prologue? Of course not. Do you need to stay at a company that doesn’t appreciate the work you do? Nope. There are other options. You just need to put the work in to find them. Remember, life isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. You win by taking things one step at a time.