WRITERS: The Big Benefits of Jumping to Another Section When Editing Gets Tough

girl-on-trampoline-1399294-mWelcome, authors! Today I’m sticking with my current theme of content edits: I’m getting a LOT of editing accomplished each day, and it’s making me happy. Thinking about HOW I’m being productive, I realized I’m building confidence by not spinning my wheels when a section gets tough.

Content edits are difficult, and they can be overwhelming. I mean, you’re looking at a host of scenes to add, to expand upon, and a multitude of characters to make consistent and to develop further.

The good thing is–and sometimes we get so drawn into one tough section it’s easy to forget–when you have SO MUCH to work on, you can take your pick of what to be working on.

I’m discovering how important it is to take advantage of that freedom.

JUMP, JUMP, JUMP…. JUMP AROUND

When a particular problem related to my draft feels off-putting, or I’m not sure what to do with it, I don’t waste writing time staring at the screen.

I go and edit elsewhere. I tackle a problem I do know how to solve, and later on, throughout the day, I think about possible solutions to the more complex issue.

I dig deep, asking myself: what’s the root of the problem? And how can I weed it out? What’s the best way to pull out the offending element?

I have yet NOT to figure out a solution within a day or two. And once I know what I need to do, when I next get time to write I find myself excited, rearing, and ready to tackle that draft. What’s better?

It’s not very often I feel excited about editing. Editing is, by far, the part of the writing process that feels most like work to me.

And somehow that “work” is feeling like fun. (Probably because I haven’t reached that stage where I’m sick of the story yet).

Now, in all fairness, I should admit it’s the second half of my story that will require the more sweeping changes.

  • Still, I have fixed some MAJOR issues in the first half.
  • I have tackled a lot of inconsistencies.
  • I have made my plot more logical by changing some decisions characters make and whom they decide to share information with.
  • I am slowly but surely getting my feel of the story and the characters, prep work to tackle the second half.

JUMPING AROUND, YOU FEEL ACCOMPLISHED. THAT IMPROVES YOUR MOOD. AND A HAPPY EDITOR IS A SUCCESSFUL EDITOR.

Best of all, by not stewing over one difficult section for an hour at a time, but waiting to jump in until I have a plan to dive in with, I’m making good use of my time and feeling confident in my abilities to make something of this draft.

Feeling a sense of accomplishment by getting SOMETHING done each day, and seeing marked improvement in my draft, is putting me in a positive mood and giving me a spur to think about the tough spots in my downtime.

So, all things considered, today’s post is a simple reminder that you don’t have to dwell on the problem areas of your draft that you don’t know what the heck to do with.

In fact, dwelling on them can be counterproductive. You can improve your mindset–and engage your creativity–by working on other things instead.

Think of it like housework: if you’ve got to clean the kitchen, sweep the floors, and do laundry, you can start at any point. If you don’t feel like starting with the kitchen, it’s stupid to sit and dwell on how much you don’t want to clean the kitchen. Start some laundry instead.

Have you found that jumping around when you edit helps you like it’s helping me? Or are you a “steadily progress through the draft” kind of person?

Feel free to share your thoughts and your experience below! And if you enjoyed this post, you might want to sign up to follow my blog by email at the top right of the page.

RELATED POSTS

  1. How to make the most of your writing time
  2. Shaking up your writing routine
  3. Creative Writing Workshop: Breaking Down Content Edits
  4. Taking Brainstorming One Step Farther To Aid In Editing
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44 responses to “WRITERS: The Big Benefits of Jumping to Another Section When Editing Gets Tough

  1. don’t you ever sleep 😉

    • hahaha!!! More than you would think 😉 …. I’ve been doing a lot of editing in my free time, of which you have a lot when you’re unemployed 🙂 I can only job hunt for so long before it makes me want to lose my mind….

  2. I am taking the linear approach but I’ll keep your advice in mind for when I really get stuck. Happy editing!

  3. Laundry! Yes! Thanks for putting it that way. You almost have me wanting to edit! In my writing group we often laugh about how suddenly we’re Suzy Homemakers about middle of NaNo when stories stop flowing and anything but writing takes our attention, even stuff we usually avoid. I think the anti-avoidance methods will work for editing.

    I am thinking that maybe I should start at the end of a book and work my way backward while making sure everything lines up. Does that sound like it would work?

    • OOH, NaNoWriMo…. my draft came out so awful I said I would never do it again. Maybe I will though. Suzy Homemakers indeed, haha!!!

      I personally wouldn’t want to start at the end. I feel it would destroy all the fun I have figuring out where the story is going. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t work for YOU.

      You could also try to outline heavily, if that sounds like something you could enjoy or (stomach.) That’s another way to help you know things line up. (Though I have heard people lament veering from the outlines during first draft comp and that causing problems.)

      If you feel inclined to try starting from the end, I would try it. I’m always for trying out new approaches…. I mean, what’s the worst that’ll happen? It won’t work out? You’ll still have some scenes/characters you can recycle and experience to draw on.

      • For the idea of working from then end, my idea is that I will reverse outline the past novels that didn’t start with an outline. The one years I spent a couple months working on outline and characters ended up nearly writing itself. And I think it is the best written. But it is in the middle of the 10 book series and I need to edit all of them. Editing has been such a bear that I wonder if these books will ever see the light of day.

        I’ll let you know how that goes.

  4. Though I sometimes jump around when writing, it hadn’t occurred to me to do it while editing. I think because editing’s partly about reading, I’m automatically doing it in the order it’s presented. So thanks, good idea, and one I’ll use next time I get bored or frustrated editing.

    • Editing is DEFINITELY partly about reading to make sure the story makes sense. I do read-throughs from time to time (especially before I edit at all) to take notes. I would never jump around during a read-through, that’s a really great point. That would totally mess an author up.

      Once I have read, though, and am just making changes based on my notes…. I figure I can attack those in any order I want to (more or less).

  5. I totally agree. When I’m feeling bummed out about having to edit work I tend to open a fresh doc or get out a pen and paper and re-write the whole thing taking my notes into account. Doing this a few times is a lot less stressful that highlighting and deleting.

  6. I’m doing this right now! I’m editing single-scene problems and letting my brain approach larger issues when it wants to, approaching the big changes from different angles in quiet moments. It’s working a lot better for me than sitting and bashing my brains out on the keyboard.

    • Glad you can back me up, kate! 🙂 I totally agree, there is NOTHING more frustrating than bashing my brains out on the keyboard….. I just try to remember to move on to something else when I feel stumped.

  7. Never thought of jumping around while editing. I’m always concerned about continuity, so I keep feeling like I have to go in order. Maybe I’m more OCD than I realize.

    • I do a read-through to make sure everything holds together…. And this time I’m jumping around more than usual so plan to do another read-through after this first round of edits. That will catch any continuity issues 🙂 Continuity is definitely a concern and we DO have to make sure we account for it, for sure!

      • It’s what holds everything together. I try to do a continuity editing run in the middle of the process after I know most of the spelling and grammar changes have been made. I say most because I never catch them all.

        • funny how people work differently! I catch and fix grammar and spelling as I see it but really don’t focus on that until proofreading at the very end. I end up changing too much stuff every step of the way to make it worthwhile to hone in on that in early editing passes.

        • I’m always looking for it. I get tripped up when I replace words and I forget to delete the old one. Mostly it’s because I try to block the old word with the mouse and write over it, but the block went away. I have to learn to be careful and vigilant. I think that’s another reason I don’t jump around. I keep fearing I’ll miss something.

          Finally getting back to editing today for a bit, so we’ll see how that goes.

  8. I’m a firm believer in jumping! It’s great to go to the place where you have energy and focus. I feel the same way about drafting. Why not draft the scenes that are crowding your mind and begging for release on paper?

    I used to approach editing and drafting like eating vegetables I didn’t like. I HAD to trudge through scenes for which I had no energy to write simply because they were next in line. Then someone gave me the same advice you’ve provided here. Did me a world of good. Once I took that approach, I found I had energy for the more difficult scenes. Suddenly, they didn’t seem as difficult as I once thought, because I allowed them to percolate at the back of my mind while I tackled the scenes for which I had energy.

    • I have to admit I usually draft in order, but I can see why some people do and I think that’s a great way to write if it works for you…. my thing is, I don’t know where my story’s GOING when I’m drafting, haha! If I drafted out of order I might end up not needing the scenes I’d drafted and was so excited about.

      If I used outlines I’d feel more comfortable drafting out of order, though I think I’d still worry about continuity in the draft. (Not that you can’t fix continuity in editing, of course.)

      And of course, I edit out of order sometimes. I do enjoy that…. Once everything is there on the page I feel more comfortable jumping around.

      Love what you say about the vegetables… I do the same thing, I eat them first and get them out the way!!! 🙂

      • I don’t use an outline when I draft. But I sometimes have a general idea of what scene happen at some point in the story. Kind of like C. S. Lewis’s image of a faun or Stephenie Meyers’s idea for a conversation. Neither knew where those aspects would fit when they sat down to write. Sometimes I have an idea for a conversation that might go someplace in the story. So, I’ll write that scene and set it aside until I can find a place where it fits.

  9. I’m jealous! I’m so not getting as much editing done as I had hoped this week! Sigh. I hate it when life gets in the way!

  10. Hi Victoria,

    I have been in situations where I am stuck on editing. When I stop staring at the screen and go the dishes, boi! Ideas start hammering my head. It is weird :)! I like driving to run errands because the breeze clears my mind and helps me become more creative. Now, I carry my nook or notepad everywhere to jot down ideas because I forget easily. Frustrating when an idea I swore was excellent runs away… Anyways, sometimes, they hit me in the middle of night. I jump out of bed! Just wanted to share my craziness :).

    Thanks for your post!

    Papatia

    • It really is NUTS that when we finally stop stressing and trying to force a breakthrough, the breakthroughs come. I wish we all didn’t have to learn that the hard way, though! 🙂

  11. As I’ve mentioned in previous comments on this blog, I usually rewrite drafts in their entirety. I didn’t do that for the fourth draft, which I just finished. For that, I took what I had from the third draft and edited it according to my notes. When I did that editing, I definitely jumped around. Whichever item took my fancy at the time, that’s what I worked on.

    Now that I’ve finished those edits, I’m taking the linear approach to edit for style and continuity. I’ll do another read-through after that and see if I need any other edits.

    I’m also now job hunting. Not fun. I have my current job for 4 more weeks. By then I better have another one lined up. In the meantime, I might not be reading or writing or commenting much, because I have a hard time focusing without the prospects of a steady income.

    • Best of luck with the job hunt!!! I hear you: I’m there too! It stinks. I hope you find something fast.

      I think your editing approach makes a lot of sense and will serve you well. Sounds pretty similar to mine 🙂 Best of luck there too.

      Successful editing and jobs for the both of us!

  12. angel7090695001

    Will have to do this.

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