Which Is Harder, Writing Or Editing?


writing or editing

During a recent “Friend” Writing Hour, we tweeted out this question: “Which is harder – writing or editing?”

The tweet got lots of feedback, with lots of writers making the case for one task over the other.

So I thought this was a good chance to highlight the distinctions between the writing and editing process.

Story writing

This is where your creativity shines.

Some writers come up with an idea for a story, and then simply “go with it” — writing words down with gusto. Others prefer to plan ahead, writing down a narrative structure before a word of the story is typed.

Take the path that works for you.

Personally, I prefer to write down words as they appear in my mind, keeping the initial editing down to a minimum.

Even though I know some sentences aren’t grammatically correct, or a scene might be far too long for what is required, when I’m in the writing zone, the story is all that matters.

Story editing

Blood, sweat, tears and . . . editing. This is where the hard work begins.

I liken the editing process to that of a sculpture. You have your story mould before you; now it’s a matter of carving or modelling it into its finished shape.

From an editorial point of view, I can sympathise with writers. It can be a difficult task editing your own work. Deciding what sentences, scenes or dialogue to rejig or delete.

That’s the value of a trusted editor, who can see things from a more neutral viewpoint, comes in.

Here are some suggestions to help give your story that final polish:

  • Have someone else read the story, asking for honest feedback.
  • Read aloud sections of the story that you are unsure about — this is especially useful for dialogue.
  • Put the story away for a day and read it again with a fresh perspective.
  • Edit the story more than once. It’s so easy to miss little nuances first time around.
  • You should never be 100% happy with what you have written. It doesn’t mean to say it’s not any good, or it can’t touch a reader’s heart. But keep those story writing standards aimed high.

Which do you prefer, writing or editing? Let us know on Twitter!

For more writing advice from “The People’s Friend”, click here.

Click here to start reading our Daily Serial, for a great example of an edited (and published!) “Friend” story.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.