Argh! Why is this editing so uncomfortable. Having to stare at and critique my clumsy, ugly, mess of words. Rather like having to listen to the sound of my own voice, which always grates on me.
I have been watching Brandon Sanderson’s lectures to get some idea how to sort this disaster. He gives lots of useful editing advice. Nothing I haven’t already learned from my academic and casual studies, but it was helpful to refocus.
Listening to Sanderson’s Writing Excuses podcasts , a discussion on editing and revision really resonated with me: ‘Discovery writers (Pantsers) often have to rewrite their first draft, using it as an outline, stall a quarter way through edits, need more revisions, and struggle to complete work.’ This is me!
This wouldn’t be a problem if I enjoyed editing more than writing. I know plenty of writers fall into that category, but I am not one of them. I enjoy the excitement exploring new words and worlds, weaving my way through a story. Finding new ideas grow from the act of putting words on the page. Those mischievous plot bunnies who throw in an unexpected twist, kill off a supposed main character, or reveal character motives I had not intended.
I have so many partially edited and unedited stories in notebooks, ring binders, and computer files. I had to merge several partial edits of a particular story which I wrote 15 years ago, but has been overwhelming whenever I have attempted to edit it.
But I digress, I will write about that some other time. Not before I have completed editing this current short story/ novella ‘Beneath Anubis’. I am not sure what the word count is, or will end up being.
I intended to join in CampNaNoWriMo to help motivate me for this editing project. However, I found the new website cumbersome to navigate, so only ended up using it to track my stats for the month. There is no longer the option to set a time goal for editing, which is another annoying niggle. I will probably skip July Camp, and hope the glitches have been smoothed out for the main NaNoWriMo event in November.
After completing edits of the first scene, I was feeling accomplished. Although the writing was still ‘pretty crap’ (quoting my BuJo), it was an improvement on Draft Zero. I now had complete sentences, no redundant or repeated words, and minimal adjectives, adverbs, and dialogue tags. Taking baby steps.
I got stuck on scene 4. It wasn’t until I had rewritten that I realised it was four scenes , not one. No wonder it had felt like more work!
For my line-editing I have been using advice from my coaching session with EJ Runyon alongside an editing spreadsheet from author and editor Natalia Leigh.
None of my scenes are perfect, but I forced myself to do what I can to make improvements, then move on. Perfection is the enemy of productivity, is my mantra. I can polish it up in my next draft. Better now, is preferable to perfect never.
In the past I would have gone over it to the death, spending 3 hours on perfecting a sentence, and still not being happy with the result. Then given up on the whole project. This has actually happened-if you don’t believe me, ask my long-suffering partner.
I am better at realising when I need to take a break. When I get over tired and risk overworking the clay. I can get tangled up in my words, changing old mistakes for new ones, rather than making improvements.
Six chapters edited/ rewritten this month. I’m in for the slog to get this done, no matter how long it takes. April (and currently May) I have been continuing to edit ‘Beneath Anubis’ scene by scene. If suitable, I plan to publish this as a novella, or submit to an anthology or competition, depending on the final word-count. I’m currently on leave from work, so trying to get as much done before I start working from home.
Happy writing, and editing.