I edit when I’m stalled. I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t been able to write a single thing, then sat down with my edit list and gone through the last chapter or scene and bingo, my writer’s block is over.
So over the years I have developed an edit list. I am constitutionally unable to concentrate on more than one thing at a time so I go over and over and over the manuscript.
I don’t know if anyone else does this, but here is my edit list.
#1 on the edit list because it is the most important and because it is most likely to jumpstart me into writing: check the scene goal. Mind you this is not my (the author’s) scene goal which can be anything from introducing a character to planting a clue. This is the hero/heroine’s scene goal. Time after time, if my story is stalled, it’s because I don’t have this in there.
(If you want to know more about this, Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham is a great book. If you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it enough.)
#2 on the edit list is making sure I have included a sense of place. I tend to write in a huge hurry and description is often left by the wayside. Even I get lost in this. So I have to go back and feed the setting in. If I have a scene goal and I’m still stuck, it’s probably because I have literally forgotten where the heck I, or more accurately the protagonist, is.
#3 on the edit list: Check for grammar. I know my grammar. I just don’t always use the correct grammar. ’nuff said.
#4 on the edit list: check for wussy words. The term wussy words came from a critique partner long ago. Call it what you want, it means modifiers that make you sound as though you aren’t quite sure, or that you use because you want to make everyone happy.
I tend to use a very long list of wussy words but the words seem and just lead the list. Uh yeah, and tend. Sigh. I also overuse parenthesis and ellipsis. I gotta watch for those.
I can’t say that going through the edit list always jump starts my writing, but it sure has helped.