It's funny, when you're right in the middle of it, going over word after word and page after page, it seems like it will never end. Editing a manuscript is not my favorite part of the novel writing process. It's time consuming, thankless, and it forces you to question everything that you know is fact. In fact, you might find yourself starting to question the fundamental truths about spelling and grammar. Time and again, you laugh at the silly notions you held that this would be the best thing you've ever done, and it's hard to keep going when you can't know whether or not it will amount to anything.
But the thing is, just making sure you keep going keeps you going. It turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you've gotten into it, it becomes worse to stop than to go on. You don't want to waste your effort, after all.
So to all those who are struggling to edit a novel, I say this: don't give up! You can do it! And here are a couple of tips that might help:
- Give Yourself a Deadline. I'll admit, my deadline was set by my mentor, which gave me a little added responsibility; so you might want to share your deadline with a trusted friend or two who will keep you on your toes. I received two months to edit an 86,000 word rough draft. I won't say there aren't successful novels out there that have taken years to edit, but that kind of time span won't fly if you're writing fiction commercially.
- Break It Into Small Steps. My FlyLady timer is my best friend. When I simply feel like I can't force myself to work, I set it for fifteen minutes during which I can't do anything except work. You'd be amazed at how much you get done when you have no other option.
- Fill Your Life. This is one I still need to work on. I'm one of those people who 'quit her day job' to become a writer, which means I have plenty of time to stare at the computer screen. Too much time, in some cases. Writing is time consuming, but at least for me, it's not something you can do 10+ hours a day. You need to bring other things into your life or else you'll end up going crazy inside your own head.
Now I get a short break, and then it's back to writing a first draft!
Have thoughts or questions on editing manuscripts or writing in general? Share them here!