Today my mind is on editing again, because I’m still editing my second edition of the Herezoth trilogy. And as much as some days I REALLY feel the itch to be writing again and feel that the autumn can’t get here fast enough, editing is cool, even if it’s tough. It’s worth doing, and it’s worth doing well.
It’s not all fun and games, but here are four reasons to persevere when editing makes you want to pull your hair out:
1. YOU HAVE YOUR STORY.
The most enjoyable, but in a lot of ways, the most challenging part of writing is discovering your story. If you’re editing, that’s DONE. You might cut some things. You might rearrange some things. But generally, once you’ve gotten your draft down and you move on to editing, your basic story is in place.
How reassuring is that? It’s a great relief. In a very real way, your labor of love and creation is finished. Editing is the icing on the cake. The cake, though, is DONE.
2. YOU HAVE HELP!
Remember, you have people to help you edit. Editors, beta readers…. Discovering when and how to improve your story is almost impossible to do by yourself, but you’re not alone there. You have support. Even a supportive group of people! You can’t really have “help” during the creative process, which is one reason, as I said above, it is in many ways the most difficult part of the writing process (even it’s also all the fun!).
3. IT TRAINS YOU HOW TO RECOGNIZE WHAT’S IMPORTANT IN LIFE, AND WHERE TO MAKE LIFE CUTS
Making cuts can be difficult on an emotional level. Every writer knows that. But you know what? LIFE is all about knowing to balance a limited resource: time. LIFE is all about deciding what matters, what’s important, what contributes to making you the person you want to be and what you’d do better off without.
Willpower is something we develop. It’s something we have to build up. And I truly do believe that the willpower we develop in cutting our beloved stories to shreds helps us learn to make much more difficult–but much more fruitful–cuts in real life.
I mean things like Facebook games, an old time-suck of mine and a trap I seem to fall into, to escape once, only to start it up again with a different game. I mean things like the time wasted worrying about a bothersome coworker or family member who doesn’t think well of us. I mean things like bad habits.
Tough editing cuts–cutting passages we truly do love and are well written, but don’t contribute–teaches us that we will be okay after losing something we feel we “need.” And that’s an empowering lesson with real life benefits.
4. THE UN-VICIOUS CIRCLE
Hopefully, you find your story inspiring. Especially the characters; they come from you, after all. They are part of you and are indicative of your hopes, your dreams, and what you care about in life.
I find that this is truly beneficial when it comes to editing. This knowledge, and an ability to focus on how my characters inspire me, makes editing feel worth while when editing gets tough. Then the act of editing, and reliving moments when my characters show WHY they inspire me, reinforces the lessons I’ve learned from my characters, and a beautiful cycle is born (until, of course, I’ve done enough editing to move on.)
Victoria Grefer is the author the Herezoth trilogy, which begins with “The Crimson League” and has new editions coming out this Fall. She also has a writer’s handbook out, titled “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.”
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