“I can’t write five words, but I can change seven.”-Dorthy Parker
How much editing should an writer do? How many layers should an artist add to their painting? No idea – seriously, I have no idea. I edit, delete, edit some more, delete some more, and edit again. Then, I like to ask for my husband’s opinion. He always says he likes it. Then, I find a third party source to edit the work and get some honest, reader-perspective feedback. Then, I delete and edit some more. Then, hand it over again. I’ve rarely hung up my art, and said to myself “It’s complete.” I even go back and edit work after sharing it on Instagram or Facebook. This usually happens after several weeks of having the piece out of sight.
I can tell you that I am beginning to love editing. Since I finally finished a novel, I’m forcing myself to edit, so I can move onto the next step; consequently, I spend less time creating new art. Creation mode is addictive; however, sometimes what’s typed – sketched – in creative mode shouldn’t be read – viewed – by other people. I laugh at a lot of the things I write – and nearly vomit at others, but after editing, I create paintings and works that I want to share with others. That’s why I’m beginning to love editing mode too.
I try to remember that editing isn’t a waste of time, but a form of self-assessment. The more I am able to see my own mistakes, the more I am able to allow others to critique my work without feeling like a need to take sick day. One of my favorite sayings my students have latched onto is “don’t be afraid to use the eraser because he’s your friend.” I find it hard to remember this myself, but I’m beginning to edit and erase with little hesitation.
Editing, or rewriting, or painting over that area that took five hours to finish, is not a bad thing. It’s essential to the creative process. I actually had a paint teacher that said “fifteen to twenty layers,” or it’s not done yet. I use to take him seriously, but I now know he meant: a painter doesn’t paint one layer on a canvas and call it done, a painter doesn’t receive feedback and not change anything, and a painter doesn’t quit just to call it done. Paintings aren’t done after one layer, and stories aren’t complete after one draft.
How about you, do you enjoy editing? Do you have a system or just keep at it until your satisfied?
Have a great night everyone and make some art!