Why Editing May Be The Worst Part of the Noveling Process

A couple of weeks ago I finished my first draft.  When I started writing in January I imagined that at this point I would feel relieved, excited, a sense of accomplishment, etc.  I really don’t.  Instead, I feel more overwhelmed at this moment than I have during the entire process!  During the past few months friends often asked “how are you going to write this thing?” and I responded, “I just will!”  And then I happily typed away, making sure the stories of Francesca and John moved forward.  Something has changed.

I’m not completely sure why the idea of editing is stressing me out so much, but it is.  Historically, I have enjoyed editing even more than writing. The only time I hated it was during the final weeks of writing my senior thesis—after each of a million drafts my adviser always had the same amount of comments!! It was crazy! Maybe that experience has subconsciously created a negative association with editing large projects??  Or maybe I feel different now because the stakes are higher–at this point one of two things can happen: 1) my novel never gets published because I didn’t spend enough time editing or 2) my novel does get published and everyone hates it because I didn’t spend enough time editing.

Of course, I started browsing some writing blogs for comfort regarding the editing process.  Usually they have good advice and/or let you know the situation is not as bad as you think.  Let me tell you, reading those blogs and comments was an f-ing nightmare!  All of my worst fears were validated!!!  One author, who has published several books, detailed her process and it involved five “big edits”—that is, edit, have people read it, edit again, more people read it, edit again, people read it again—you get the point. Seeing that most readers probably need a month or two to get through an entire novel that is an incredibly long process.  Another writer said that she budgets 1 YEAR-15 MONTHS for editing!! Wtf!  That is a LOT of editing.  It’s possible I’m being naiive, but that sounds crazy—and I think this was all before she even looked for a publisher! My hope is that because I planned so much of the story on the front end with my trusty snowflake method, I will be in a better situation than some of those people, but we shall see.

Anyway, I have told many people in real life this, but for those who haven’t seen me recently (or ever) this is my plan going forward:

  • Edit the entire manuscript on my computer and address any comments/notes I made to myself
  • Print the manuscript, read it again, and then make any necessary edits
  • Share with friends (readers and writers)
  • Shift ego aside and edit again
  • Consider sending to professional editing services—they are expensive, but possibly worth it.  An alternative step would be to attend a writing conference to get feedback from agents and publishers on the spot (also costs money)
  • Edit again
  • Try to find an agent

On a happier note—I made it to the third round of The Write Practice blogging competition!  I’m not sure what that means yet, but thank you so much to everyone who responded to my prompt last time.  I will keep you posted on that!!

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6 thoughts on “Why Editing May Be The Worst Part of the Noveling Process

  1. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” – Nelson Mandela

    The hurdle is creating the doubt which is creating a fear. Rest assured your triumph is just around the cornerI. Press forward!

    • 🙂 Thanks Aunt Ellen! I guess it was inevitable I would feel this way eventually. Don’t worry, the editing/book is still going to happen.

  2. Pingback: Why I Blog About Noveling | illegalwriting

  3. Congrats on finishing your novel’s first draft! That’s such a huge accomplishment that most authors fail to complete. I’m still working on mine. Now, if you don’t mind taking a bit of advice from someone who likely doesn’t know what they’re talking about… 🙂

    I imagine editing a novel is exponentially more difficult than editing a short story, but even with my ~4,000 word short stories, I cringe when it comes time to fixing them. My method is to read the whole thing over a couple of times and look at the big structural issues (useless scenes, useless characters, missing scenes, missing characters, etc). Once you clean that stuff up, take it one scene at a time. Ask yourself if you’re missing any information, providing irrelevant information, etc. This approach has eased my anxiety when it comes time to editing and by the time I get to the end, I’m super happy that II have something semi-coherent.

    Oh, and then I send it out to my critique group for some peer reviews and see what else may need changing!

    Best of luck to you. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

  4. Pingback: Pouncing on Opportunities | illegalwriting

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