Conscious Writing, Channeling & The Magic of Editing

I know that some people hate the process of editing, but as for me…

I’m liking it!

It isn’t easy, though.  Nope, nope.  In any case, I think it’s teaching me different ways to approach writing.

“Channeling” vs. “Conscious Writing”

As I’m going through rewrites now I feel I can write more consciously than I could in earlier drafts.  Because I’ve been through so many ideas and different ways of presenting them on the page that this time around I know exactly what I need and want to say; now I just have to decide how I want to say these things before I put it on the page rather than trying to channel the muse, putting down whatever happens to come to me and sorting it out later.  I couldn’t always do that on the earlier draft (…or, for that matter, earlier draftsss).

This is what I mean by “conscious writing” versus “channeling,” and I’m thinking that maybe it takes a lot of practice to learn not only how to write in each of these modes but also when to write in them and also how to switch between them.  I think conscious writing is good for later and/or final drafts, though not the first.  I’m not sure I could be an entirely conscious writer the first time through a new story.

The Magic of Editing Comes From Rewriting

How often during your first draft were/are you excited about the quality of what you’ve actually managed to put on the page?  Sometimes I felt that way about my writing, but on a whole I did not.  I was more excited by the ideas I’d generated and the developing of connections between them than my execution.

However, now that I’m going through and refashioning my manuscript so that it’s consistent and told in what I hope are more effective uses of tone and voice, according to the themes of the story (something I reflected heavily on for a while before diving into rewrites), I am no longer preoccupied with “getting the (right) story on the page” and am free to consider its more artistic side; things like tone, style and voice become important.

I feel that now I am really telling the story I’ve been meaning to tell.  I can feel the magic in every scene, the kind of magic I hear in the soundtracks I listen to for inspiration as I’m writing.  Last week I talked about not taking writing too seriously (except when writing something serious), and this has really helped me.  I realized there was a tone of whimsy and fantasy in some of what I’d written in the previous draft that I didn’t allow to come through as often as I should have, and I think this was because it was tempered by a fear of not “getting it right.”

After starting the revision process, though, it gets me excited to read what’s on the page, sometimes even scared, but in one way or another emotionally involved.  I’m convinced that if I don’t feel this way about every single moment of my story, then I’m not doing my job as a writer because it is my hope that all of the finished product will provide the same experience to readers.  I know it’ll take some time and intense focus to make this happen on every page, requiring that I be a conscious storyteller in every moment spent writing.

I’ve much work left ahead of me yet to get the manuscript to the level I want it to be at, but for once I can actually see myself getting there.

Do You Have “Modes” of Writing?

If so, what do you call them?  When do you think is the best time to use them?

(Speaking of editing…haha, I wrote this in a hurry before an eye exam.  Spiffed it up a bit now. :D)


8 thoughts on “Conscious Writing, Channeling & The Magic of Editing

  1. Hmm. I think this is a good insight. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of myself being in a different writing mode at one time or another… except maybe wearing a ‘writer hat’ versus an ‘editor hat’, I guess.

    But definitely, you can see different things at different stages of the writing process. When you’re in the forest you can see only trees, and you have to find your way through. From twenty thousand feet, though, you see the forest take shape, and you can see the shape of your path through it… does that metaphor make sense?

    At some point you have to be in the trees. And at some point you have to be high above them.


    • That makes perfect sense! (I think I’ve been stuck in the forest for so long that being able to “look down from above” has come as an especially welcome change of scenery, heh.)


  2. I really do like editing. I like reading the story I crafted and then strengthening it. I imagine editing as a wood sculptor: they make a rough product outline first, and then they make it really beautiful by whittling off the excess wood. Well, in the writer’s case, I often add too.

    Best of luck editing!

    Visit my writing blog at


    • I like the analogy! Maybe it’s even more like sculpting clay. The story isn’t “set in stone” until it’s officially fired off to the publisher for book binding! (For those that are aiming to be published, anyway.)

      Thanks for sharing, GD. 🙂


  3. Yes I have different modes of writing! Though I’ve never called them anything specific. I’m glad you’re enjoying the editing! I struggled with it at times. It was really hard for me to get into the right frame of mind to get through the edits. I think right now I’m in ‘story incubation’ mode, though! 🙂


    • I like that! Sometimes I think I miss that mode, particularly when things aren’t working out so smoothly in other modes, heh. Eventually I’ll be able to return there for a new story.

      I hope. <_<


  4. Like Stephen, I mostly just divide “writing” from “editing.” It’s easy to tell them apart because they happen with different tools (writing happens with a pen, editing happens on the computer).

    I guess I do think of pantsing and plotting, but I’m always doing a mixture of the two. The mixture changes over time (as I was discussing over at T.S.’s blog), but it’s never 100% plotting, and when it was 100% pantsing I ended up writing a novel that never would have ended it I hadn’t reined it in (see: “Wonder Boys”).


  5. That’s interesting. Having the “pen vs. computer” system seems like a good way to reinforce specific writing goals. That way, you can train yourself to have one mindset when you pick up the pen and another when you sit down to write at the computer.

    I wonder if I should point out that when I say “writing modes” I don’t exactly mean “writing vs. editing,” or even “plotting vs. pantsing.” It’s a little more than that. I have different modes of writing while in the writing and editing stages, yet a mode is not the same thing as a stage, per se; modes are more like mindsets.

    It’s possible to write while in the editing stage, though “editing” would still be the primary goal, just as it’s possible to edit while in the writing stage, with “writing” being the primary goal. (However, I think the latter tends to be frowned upon, while the former is highly encouraged—rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!) Writing in either case requires a unique kind of mindset, or so I think, and so I call these “writing modes.” Though, I suppose you could have “editing modes,” as well.

    …Hmm. Maybe I’m just being nitpicky now. That’s very possible. It’s getting later, heh.

    As for pantsing and plotting…that’s quite another matter, though my experience has been somewhat similar to yours. I went through several drafts of pantsing followed by one of intense outlining to a version of pantsing that was kept in check by a very loose outline…all in the pursuit of one stinkin’ story. Talk about a source for headaches.

    It’ll be by the pure grace of God that this thing gets finished, I tell you.


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