Editing Life, Here WE GO!
Editing… it sends shivers down many of our spines. It’s hard to fathom how such a simple word makes Authors and Freelances alike run for the hill, but it does.
Just recently I finished my first draft of what will be my first book, Blood Bound. Then came the questions: how do I go from the unpolished piece of genius it is to the best version it can be? Am I the best person to do this? Oh boy, I’m not qualified to edit my own novel, maybe I should just call it quits now before I embarrass myself?
Let me stop you there.
If I have learned anything this last two months of “editor’s block”, it is definitely this - I am the only one that can edit (as in developmental edit) my novel because I am the only one that can see my vision, right now at least. I have come to realize three big factors that made trying to edit my novel a living hell.
1) I AM MY OWN WORST ENEMY
Let me clarify. For those of us that constantly doubt ourselves, like I do, it can be doubly as hard to go from writing a novel that you treat as your baby to a hardcore editor that has to scrap the very words that gave you solace in the first place. It’s hard to write a book. It’s harder to accept that it needs improvement that only you can give. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO EDIT YOUR NOVEL. YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO MAKE THE CHANGES THAT NEED TO BE MADE.
Also remember, though, that you can over-edit. You don’t want to lose the juice that makes your book tasty.
That being said, let’s continue.
2) I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO EDIT, I ALREADY TOOK FOREVER TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT
Time is an elusive thing. It teases us. But know this, YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOUR TIME.
I had to use my breaks and lunch at work most days, maximize every day off (though things never go as we plan, naturally), and restrict my social life, all in the name of writing the darn book. Now, as I transition to the life of an editor, I’m finding that I have more on my plate now than ever. Watching my Income Jobs, College, and Novel Life collide together, I’m finding that I just do not have enough time in the day to do everything and lately my book has been paying the price for that. NO MORE!
So what do I do next? I make a plan. I bought a planner and, on the first empty space I found, wrote down my priorities. That is what it comes down to. My priorities are as follows: Family Comes First, My Book, Then My $$$ Maker and College. Now I know what some of you are thinking, That’s great for you but I can’t prioritize that way! I want to challenge that.
We all have dreams, but the difference between dreaming of success and achieving it is that allusive spot where we are actually doing it. You have to carve out the time for your book because no one else will do it for you, and you deserve be able to achieve your dream just like anyone else. Have a full-time job? Use your breaks and lunches, or even your commute if you ride the bus or have the technology to record yourself. Every second is precious and matters. You’re a Student? Same advice, use those breaks between classes or maybe form a writing club at school to get credits for it. Have kids? As tough as it is, we all know parents are the world’s best multi-tasking geniuses. I highly suggest using the voice apps of your phone or record your thoughts throughout the day and transcribe them when the opportunity hits! A lot of authors with children get to writing as soon as the kiddos crash. While everything here is not all-inclusive, I promise you that you do have the time. You need to be the boss of your schedule and master it.
Note**** While you work in your editing time, don’t forget to schedule some YOU time. If you are married, go on a date with your spouse. If you do have kids, spend genuine time with them. If you are going to school and exams have you stressed out, take the time to watch that Netflix show you’ve been dying to see. Your novel is not the end all be all that should take over your life, just make sure to schedule the time for it too. It is a lifestyle and a hobby wrapped up in one, under the right circumstances it can even be reviving.
3) ACCEPTING THAT IT IS OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP
I personally think this one is the hardest. But it is also the most important. When you get stuck, or don’t know how to piece something together, taking a step back and asking for help is the bravest thing you can do as an author. It tells the world that you really do care about the quality of your work and that you accept that there are just some things you just do not know. And that is 100% okay!
When I first started editing, I had no idea where to start. I remember thinking, How am I supposed to edit a novel, anyways? Like, what are the steps involved and how do I know when I’m doing it wrong? This is when I hit up the internet. I got some decent articles, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to see it being done. So then I watched AuthorTube, and while it was so much more helpful, sometimes it just isn't enough. Just like when you researched for your novel, you have to research how to edit. There are so many types of editing (which I’ll get to in another Post), but ultimately, you may have to reach out to another author and just ask. Send an email to a writer friend or a author you admire, they may not respond but you tried and that is what matters. Not every piece of advice you get is going to work for you, but give them a chance. You may stumble upon a method all your own. I know I did.
HERE IS HOW I EDIT:
I edit my books by my own method. As soon as I am done writing, I have to read it. The entire thing. Other people suggest giving it two months, maybe more, so that you can have fresh eyes. I read mine right after I type ‘the end’ because I want to read it while the love for the story is still in my heart. I quickly write down things that come to mind in a notebook, then I put the draft down. I let it sit until I find the right mindset to read it again, in a paper version specifically. All the way through. No Notes. I just want to love the story again. After I do this, I immediately read my original notes and write down anything extra I need to add and then I get to work. I go by POV, or point of view, and read that specific character to discern their timeline and character arc. I add as many scenes as I can until they are so fleshed out that there is nothing else to add. Next, I work on the flow of the work, do the chapters run into the next one as if they are blended? Can I see all of the landscapes and people in my mind without realizing it? Does the plot make complete and utter sense? If there are any plot holes, which there will likely be if you are part of the 98% that don't write perfectly the first time through like me, work through the chapters step by step, adding fore-shadowing, including villain backgrounds, working out the laws of the magic in your world.
When you finish with the last sentence of the last page, put down the story and make yourself treat you like the Creative Genius you are. You finished draft two. Send it to the Beta-Readers, and hold on because you have just become one giant leap closer to being published.
There may be a lot of drafts, but please remember that there is only one of you. Take care of yourself first. Always. And if you get to a point where you just can’t do it anymore, shelf your book until you feel like you can. That is definitely something you can do. Just get back to it when you’ve completed a different book and realized what the missing component is.
Also, don’t forget to email me if you have any questions. I’m not the fastest person in the world, but I’ll write you back!