From Writing To Editing: Making the Adjustment

I know my drafts start out as "ugly ducklings." Now, if I could just convince myself that at some point, after multiple and substantial edits, they've become swans.....

I know my drafts start out as “ugly ducklings.” Now, if I could just convince myself that at some point, after multiple and substantial edits, they’ve become swans…..

I always dread making the switch from writing a project to editing one…. especially when they are two different works, as is the case for me right now. I finished the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel yesterday, and am moving, well, backwards, to edit another novel I wrote earlier in the year and I’m hoping to release in 2013 (“The King’s Sons,” last installment in my first trilogy).

I hate the switch for so many reasons. So, so many reasons.

  • MY CONFIDENCE DROPS INSTANTLY. This morning I started reading/editing “The King’s Sons,” and I got through the first page. My prologue…. I have edited this novel before, more than once, and I get so frustrated when I still look at it and think “DUDE, this needs work. Why do I use “seem” so much? And what is with me and the passive voice? You’d think after so many years writing and a handful of novels I’ll learn….”
  • CHANGE IN ROUTINE. Writing and editing are two very distinct processes in my mind, and I approach them differently, so after months of creating a draft, to suddenly switch to editing is a jolt. It throws me off my game and I need a few days to adjust. Does this happen to anyone else?
  • MY PERFECTIONISM. I’ve learned to tone down the desire to make a first draft perfect while I’m writing it by telling myself, “That’s what editing for. You can edit later.” While that works while I’m writing, when it comes time to editing…. HOLY. MESS. It’s kind of an issue for me. I sometimes spend half an hour on a page or on two paragraphs…. And then, when I pass through the novel the time after that, I’m not happy with the changes I made the last time around. I know, on an academic level, that I’ll never really be satisfied with anything I write and that no writer really is. But accepting that is a different story.
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12 responses to “From Writing To Editing: Making the Adjustment

  1. When it’s just me editing my work, I generally have no problem with it. I can move stuff around, change the plot, create characters, delete characters, etc. But as soon as I reach the point where I think, “It’s time for someone else to read this,” editing becomes IMPOSSIBLE. I second guess everything I do, I make things worse — it’s terrible. But other people will have to read it eventually, so I power through … and then send off the manuscript and cringe when it’s returned to me covered in red markings.

    • ooh, that’s a good point…. I definitely try not to think about sending it out to beta readers, nonetheless publishing the work…. it’s super terrifying. My poor, poor beta readers…. the drafts they read, I always feel they’re ok before I send them, and then I look through them after and think “What have I DONE?”

      • My friend actually just asked to see the manuscript I finished a while ago. And I said sure, no problem, but I’ve been putting off sending it to him all morning because I don’t want to! What if he hates it? What if he tells me I need to re-write it? Ahhh! Panic!

        • aw, don’t panic! even if someone doesn’t like a novel, that doesn’t mean it’s a BAD novel necessarily. It could just be a well-written novel that’s not to their taste, and that’s okay.

          if you know it’s ready, then take the plunge and send it. if you feel in your gut it’s not, I’d tell him you need more time…. this is always a stressful time for me too!!! best of luck! 😦

  2. Thank God! I’m not alone in the editing nightmare!!!

  3. Nice tips Victoria…!!
    Ur blogs are too good, informative, explanotory , and a must read for budding writers….Keep sharing ur thoughts…!!!!!
    Hv a Happy New Year…!!!!
    http://akanksharastogi.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/welcome-2013/

  4. Hi there – I have so much trouble getting the story down on paper that the editing seems to be the easy part. Although, I’m like you and think “what crap is this?” more often than I should. It takes edit after edit after edit to see holes sometimes. I really should get me some of those beta readers!

    • oh, beta readers are FABULOUS. and you’re right…. I’m glad you said it takes edit after edit sometimes just to find the holes. I’m glad because that happens with me, and it’s just so dang frustrating that it helps to hear it’s just a part of the process, and while it’s a pain, it doesn’t mean you’re not a writer or you can’t write when it happens to you.

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