Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Editing while running.

I know how important editing is to writing but it is a bloody tedious process. Going over work that you yourself have written leaves room for error. A simple mistake that was made before can be hard to catch by the writer later. The reading process is an incomplete sort of glancing action where our brains can fill in the missing or incorrect parts. For example, take a look at the following sentence.

Accrodnig ot rscheearch at srevreal uinervsiteis, it dseno't mtaetr ni waht oerdr teh ltteres in a wrod aer, teh improtnat tihng si taht teh frsit and lsat ltteers be in the rghit pclae.

This has been floating around the internet for a while and is somewhat interesting. It also applies to editing the written word. If you edit for long periods you can easily miss small mistakes as you grow more fatigued. My mind can miss these little mistakes now and then, such as missing “Hits” instead of “His” or “Its” and even “Weather” instead of “Whether”. This is why word processors must not be trusted. These words are spelled correctly and escape the software’s notice. So it is up to your eyes to scan the text carefully and weed out those hidden mistakes.

I have found success in a most unlikely place for my editing. I edit while running on the elliptical trainer at the gym. I know it sounds crazy but I have always been something of a multitasker. You may think it difficult to read while running but I find that I do so very carefully. I also think that the exercise, getting the blood flowing, helps my concentration. Writing notes on the page is nearly impossible so I just highlight problem words of sentences with a yellow highlighter and things I want to change or add to with an orange highlighter. I probably look a little weird at the gym with double fisted highlighters but this process does work for me. I return home with my pages and make my changes at the keyboard. After I get through the entire work, I print out my changes and take another look during the next workout. I used this process on my first book; Rise and Walk, and then passed the text to friends several times for a look. I examined their notes while on the elliptical trainer and made my highlights for consideration later.

It may sound outrageous but I find that running while editing works for me.

Greg Solis