Monday, April 6, 2015

Experience with Edits

Happy Easter Monday, dearest readers! Quick announcement pertaining to following: it has come to my attention that for some reason GFC wasn't allowing people to follow the blog...the issue should be fixed. I hate technology.

But, onto more pleasant things! Actually, not really, because today's topic is quite a painful one, for me, at least. However, writing is a whole mix of things, pleasant and not-so, jumbled together in a pot, that produce an addictive product. I am unable to stop, even if I don't like some aspect of it.

Before I finished a complete draft, I looked forward to editing like a kid (okay, let's face it, like I) look forward to Christmas. Probably because I was anticipating refining my novel in order to ultimately finish it.

However, it was not so simple.

After about a week of editing, I had become so disgusted with my manuscript that I set it aside entirely for a month or so. I wasn't getting the automatic rush of seeing my writing fall into place that I got while drafting. I felt like there was so much to fix and that nearly all of it was unfixable. It was just so messy! I couldn't keep track of it all and it made my head hurt and brought tears to my eyes. Why was I finally being beat by the simple stage of editing?!

More days passed with the manuscript shoved to the back of my mind. But it was always there, like a test I would eventually need to study for or a worksheet I'd eventually have to complete. Something I was running from, something nasty.

Finally, I came to realize that this mentality was not healthy for my writing, or for me. I was intimidated by the whole of my story and all the changes that had to be made. But I was not taking into account the brilliance of the story itself, the characters I'd fallen in love with, the reasons I'd started writing it in the first place.

Drafting is an instant gratification experience for me. I love to see the pages and the chapters pile up, to see the blood sweat and tears poured into it, and the story develop. I don't get that when I have to delete things and re-write. I am likely to get overwhelmed by everything produced by the drafting stage and scream at my MS "I FINISHED YOU, ISN'T THAT ENOUGH!?" Unfortunately, I doubt that agents and publishers would react positively if I shouted such words.

Eventually, I was able to focus on what's in front of me. I made a list of what was wrong, and focused on one thing at a time. Like life, not everything is going to happen at once. And like my story, my edits need pacing. I needed to pace myself in what I was fixing, so I didn't burn out. Also, I needed to stop expecting the unexectable from myself. It's not logical or healthy for me to believe I can fix everything in a day. Lastly, I needed to remember the reasons why I started writing this particular story in the first place. I needed to let the love of my story, my characters, and ultimately writing fuel me.

To sum it all up, when you're cleaning a kitchen, you focus on one aspect at a time. Perhaps first putting food away, then wiping down the table and all the counter tops, moving onto sweeping, next washing the dishes, then drying, and finishing off by putting it all away. Try having this mentality when refining your masterpiece. And don't forget why you're doing it. Because you love the look of a clean kitchen! Those sparkling counter tops and appliances...oh wait, I mean, because you love your story! Those incredible, real characters that the rest of the world needs to know.

How do you edit your manuscript?

15 comments:

  1. Excellent post. It is so true that it is best to focus on one thing at a time. When I first started writing I had issues with changing POV and that was always the first thing I had to go through and edit for, then it was keeping the same tense, then I would focus on the story as a whole and look for plot holes and out of sequence etc.

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    1. Thank you so much! That is fabulous advice, thanks for sharing.

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  2. Editing is always a pain. I go through about 5 rounds myself and then give it to betas and each beta requires a new round of edits to fix what they point out. Then there's the rounds with my editing. It's a never ending cycle. The book I'm editing now has been a real pain, but now...after all my blood, sweat, and tears...(And let me tell you, there was a lot of all three.)...I finally have the story I want and can be proud of. :)

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    1. That is so awesome! Best. Feeling. Ever. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  3. You came up with the perfect solution! If we try to digest any part of the writing process as a whole, it's going to overwhelm. Little pieces at a time is the only way.

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  4. Your last paragraph made me laugh because whenever I feel stuck with revising I tend to turn to housework. You can tell when a revision is getting me down because my kitchen sparkles. :)

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    1. Haha, we are so related, with great minds thinking alike and all ;)

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    2. I do the same thing! Right now, my house is the cleanest it's been in a year. And I love revising. But I do tend to get stuck sometimes, especially when I realize after two drafts that a major change is needed (like POV or adding/deleting a character). More often, though, I get stuck writing that first draft, usually about a third of the way through. I've learned to set the manuscript aside and work on something else for a couple of months.

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  5. Ah, editing. Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I actually enjoy it. I tend to edit as I write and I know that's not good because it stalls my story so I really need to get out of that habit. But sometimes I think of an edit and think if I don't address it right then and there, I'll forget it. For once, I'd like to just write straight-through and edit later! Good reminder post.
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I have a tendency to write and edit at the same time sometimes, too, which is a definite struggle. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. I love this post so much. Even though I have yet to actually finish a manuscript and move on to the editing, I sometimes fall into the bad habit of editing while I write. So I totally understand how daunting and frustrating it can be. I think it's really important to keep the stuff you need to fix in mind, but also don't forget about the wonderful job you're doing. After all, you're creating a whole new world; that's not exactly an easy task.

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    1. I love that last phrase, will definitely be remembering that! Thanks girl =)

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  7. I edit mine very reluctantly. And with a LOT of highlighters.

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

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