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The Countdown: How I Know I Finished Writing

The [Input|Output]s of Mark
The Countdown: How I Know I Finished Writing
By Mark Askew • Issue #14 • View online
A Sunday newsletter. Finally!
While the intention was to share things that I am consuming and learning, my time has mostly been consumed with learning grammar. Seven weeks have been completed, and I have three more weeks left for this class. There are thirty more weeks to complete the copyediting certificate overall, so I will take the small wins where I can.
This newsletter, however, is in regard to my current project, Waited, a short story that centers on a teen-age boy trying to navigate his abusive home life. This short story is currently on its fifth revision. Feedback from others have been added back into the story, and I am making my way through the final edits. And despite my looming deadline, I think I am finished.
How does one know when they are finished with editing?
That’s an excellent question. 
When I look to some of my favorite authors—Toni Morrison, George R. R. Martin—I read their recounts of how they would rewrite a chapter or paragraph dozens of times until they felt it was right. One piece of advice that stood out was from Ms. Morrison in which she said not to “fuss” over it. But when do you stop fussing over it?
I track my writing and edits, documenting the word counts, ranges, and time spent, and I have found that in each session, fewer and fewer words are changing. I am left fussing over the placement of a comma, or if there are too many commas—maybe I should add an em dash to spice things up. 
That is how I know it’s done. 
I’m no longer wondering about the plot—I still some worry about whether the project as a whole makes any sense or is good—I’m not cutting large sections or fiddling with words. The work is done. There is nothing else I can do. It’s now ready for the world. 
What I can’t say is how many revisions it will take to get there. One or twelve? I still need to work that out.

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