It depends. Sometimes I edit in chunks as I go, then return to the completed story and edit it some more (like, a lot more). Sometimes I don’t edit until I’ve completed to first draft. 

There are plenty of authors who edit only one particular way. I’m not one of them. My editing process is unique to each project. The bigger the project, the more I have to remember and thread together, and the more I like to take time over each section to edit as I go. That does not mean that I don’t go back and edit once the first draft is complete. And yes, I still count my chunk-edited story as a first draft. 

If you feel your pace is suffering, that’s a problem that can be addressed by editing the whole story once you’ve completed the first draft. I always tell people to do what feels comfortable, but not to get complacent. Your style changes, and so too might your editing process change. 

If you think you might be micro-managing your story by editing as you go, or you think that you’re using the chunk-based editing process to procrastinate writing new material, you’ve got two solid options:

  1. Take a break from the story. If you’re trying to think of reasons not to write, or you’re torturing yourself over one little section, you might need a some time away. 
  2. Purge. Stop editing in chunks and write as much as you can in one sitting. Then, when you come back to your story to write again, only read the last paragraph of the previous session before turning over a new page and continuing on. Distance yourself from the previous session’s work. Don’t give yourself the chance to edit. See how long you can go on this way. Sprint as hard as you can for that finish line, then go back later and edit edit edit.

In the end, the goal is to complete the first draft. If you feel you need to edit what you’ve written in order to continue writing, then so be it, but if you can hold off, you might try that out, too. 

It’s up to you to find your happy medium. If you write as often as you can as intently as you can, then your happy medium might present itself without much experimentation, but you might also have to play around with different methods of editing to find what works best for you. 

Here are a few great resources:

Thank you for your question! If you have further questions or a comment to add, hit us up!


impishly submitted her thoughts on chunk-based editing:

I take a slightly different approach to the issue of writing and editing.  I write all of my original drafts out by hand, using pen-and-paper.  I originally started doing this because my words seem to flow better, as, for some reason, my eyes aren’t wandering upward on the page to see what I’d written before and, instead, I’m focusing on the words right before my eyes.  It takes a little more time, and my right hand gets a little sore, but all-in-all, I’m alright with it.

However, I always like having a clean, typed version on my computer, so I always type up what I’ve written.  As I’m doing this, I don’t just blindly type whatever I’d written before.  I edit as I’m typing.  If, as I’m reading, I find that something is particularly heinous, I can go through and red-pen the whole thing, as it’s a hard copy, and then make the edits when I’m typing  it.  

This way I don’t pressure myself into thinking I have to edit it, because I know that will come when I type it up, and I can write as small or large chunks of writing as I want before I finally review and edit my work.

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