God, I hate editing.
That’s not true. I actually like editing when it’s short pieces. Editing a poem, a short story? Love it. I love playing with all the fiddly bits of my writing, all the grammatical subtleties and the foreshadowing, the little bits of characterization that show up in subtext. It’s awesome.
But when it comes to editing a whole novel? Blaaaaaaaaaah. There are too many fiddly bits. Plus making sure the plot makes sense. Plus making sure there are no inconsistencies. Plus you have to hit a decent word count for it to be really acceptable as a novel. Plus every time you read Chapter Four you just want to stab it in the face because it sucks. so. much.
There’s too much.
So how do you not give up?
Use the tools you used to actually write your book, for one. Did you sit down every day and crank out 1,500 words? Did you wake up early and tell yourself, when I have 500 I can get ready for work? Did you grind out a chapter a weekend?
Do the same with editing.
Bit by bit, you’ll have less to do. Just like every word you write brings you closer to the end, every bit of editing brings you closer to a finished product. It helps if you start off with a list: read through your novel and make comments on what you like, what you don’t like, what you think you should add or elaborate on.
…And more baby steps…
“I will have a preliminary edited draft done by the end of January.”
“I will have a full draft with author comments by the end of March.”
“I will have an agent-ready product by April.”
This last one isn’t super likely, but you see my point. It’s the NaNoWriMo concept: having a deadline makes you sit down and work, even if it’s self-imposed. And it’s good practice for the (hopeful) future, when you do have someone breathing down your neck to make a deadline.
…And eventually you’re off and running.
It’s hard work. I’m writing this blog post in an editorial funk, trying to get away from the massive list that is my current draft. There’s a whole chapter (chapter-goddamn-four) that I’m going to completely re-write, which will hopefully make it less painful to look at.
For me, this is where I get stuck. Finishing the actual book isn’t the problem, but polishing and cleaning it? That’s where my stories die. There are novels on my computer that I’ve written– and finished– a good three, four times over. I refuse to let that happen with this one.
So readers: how do you get through the editing process? How do you polish up your work?