The Missing Piece: Editing

I feel like there is an lot of fantastic advice out there about writing, but most of it is about getting started. Mantras such as…

“Write a thousand words per day” – Chris Guillebeau

…are fantastic, but what about editing?

Yes, I know editing is part of writing but to me the verb write means getting the words on the page or screen and that doesn’t extend much past a first draft.

Of course the most important part is polishing the words you have regurgitated on to the page in to something of sense.

This goes beyond correcting the typos and spelling errors to making sure that the words form a coherent message and that everything flows.

This is where I have a problem.

I have no issue writing first drafts, I love it in fact, and writing a thousand words per day works for me.

But after I’ve completed that first draft I become stuck.

This is because, well, if I’m honest, I get bored with what I’ve written. I don’t think that is because what I’ve written is bad either…it’s just my personality type…once I’ve learned, explored, researched and understood a topic I move on. I’m perpetual chasing more knowledge and information (this is probably more of a disadvantage than an advantage). It’s a classic ENTP trait.

“The first draft of anything is shit” – Ernest Hemingway

What pains me, is that I go to the web for answers for everything…but when it comes to this problem I am drawing a blank.

There are plenty of fantastic resources out there talking about what to write, how to get started writing and all that stuff. There’s even fantastic resources out there which talk about publishing, formatting, pricing.

What’s missing? The bit in the middle. There just, in my opinion, isn’t anywhere near enough information out there about taking a first draft to be ready to publish.

If getting started was people’s biggest problem (it’s never been mine), then shipping or getting it out there is surely the next biggest hurdle?

The classic texts about writing don’t go in to enough detail about this either. I’ve read many great books about writing, including On Writing by Stephen King. But I still come up short.

As someone who thinks in systems and is always looking for effective solutions, there is some interesting light at the end of the tunnel for people like me struggling to edit.

([] is a fun way to edit your documents. And the fantastic Draft is introducing more editing features, including being able to get professional human editing from within the app to an editing robot to give you suggestions.

Any technical solutions are going to rely on linear algorithms, and of course the best writing is that done by a human, in their own voice, calling on their own experience with their own unique perspective.

But I need help. I need great writers to share their editing methods. I need people who write and publish online to talk more about this.

There is enough about getting started. We need more about polishing raw text in to something publishable.

And nothing about fear, rejection and perfectionism here. I need tactics.

I think there is a real gap in the information market for this stuff.

If you are a prolific writer I offer you up the challenge of solving this problem for people.

The Big Question: Should You Work for Free?

This is a hotly debated topic in the world of freelance, consulting and in the service businesses. It’s not as black and white as a yes or no answer, but if you want my default it’s no…

Like anything, there is a little more to it, so we should do a deeper dive in to that and look at some of the nuances.

When you are starting out, or if people perceive you to be a small time operator, then you can be sure that at some point you will be called upon to do some free work. There are many reasons that organisations ask you to do this. The classic culprits of asking or free work are non-profits, and you can understand why they do this. By their nature they are on a limited budget and rely on donations of time and money to keep them going.

A well run non-profit should operate like a business. If a business wants results that provide a higher ROI than their initial investment then they should be willing to pay for it.

This is the first ‘law’ of business, if you pay X and get Y, as long as Y is worth more, or generates more than X then it is a worth while endeavour.

Although run by well meaning folks, non-profits are often run by people who aren’t immersed (they have other jobs) in the cause and so they cut corners. Long term strategy isn’t sought as short term personal agendas pursued. None of this leads to a well run business.

What do you do if a non-profit asks you to do some free work? Your default response should always be no. Never commit to something before you can investigate the situation. Yes a non-profit approaches you for their own good, but when you are a freelancer your time is your most value asset. You have to consider what’s in it for you before you engage in any business relationship, paid or otherwise. Selfish though this may seem that’s the nature of business and you shouldn’t forget it.

I’m not saying that any work you do should bring monterey reward, that’s not always the case. Often it’s great to take on a project because of the exposure it will give you or the warm fuzzy feelings you get from doing some good for the world with a cause that you believe in.

You just need to way up the situation and see whether it is worth it. Remember that unless you are 100% committed to delivering to an organisation then it is likely you will deliver sub-par work and thus nobody wins.

What’s your opinion on working for free?

I cover in much more detail working for free in the context of getting up and running as a WordPress Consultant in my upcoming book. If you sign up for the notification list, you’ll get an email auto responder course, one of those emails goes in to much more depth about this stuff.

What’s Holding You Back From Getting Started?

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”
~ W. H. Murray

Get Started
Go. Now. Get Started.

If you are going to build something incredible, then you have to at least start it. You have to also finish it, but starting is a big personal battle for many people.

In this article I’m going to look through some reasons that people don’t get started on that thing that they truly want to do. I’m sure that you will identify with some or all of the traits, and maybe others. Either way, please let me know what you think in the comments.

Continue reading What’s Holding You Back From Getting Started?

The Secret To Creativity

Editors note: This is a guest post by Matthew Lane of Blessed Bohemian.

Creative Secret
Want to know the creative secret?

The secret to being creative is to be creative.

This is not a joke. This is not a new idea. It really is that simple.

We tend to overthink and overcomplicate simple ideas until they seem like really complex, intricate and difficult problems. But they aren’t. They remain simple truths, even though some people take years of contemplation and study to realize them. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of their simplicity.

Continue reading The Secret To Creativity

Introducing The Create & Conquer Manifesto

Create & Conquer Manifesto
The Create & Conquer Manifesto

I would like to introduce you to the Create & Conquer Manifesto for Digital World Changers.

It shows the way forward for what I am building here, and I hope it provides you with inspiration to build something incredible.

I decided to write the manifesto a while ago. I wanted it to be simple and the words to be powerful. I also wanted to make it as worthy and easy to share as possible.

Continue reading Introducing The Create & Conquer Manifesto