News Flash: Editing Is Hard


For the past several months, I’ve been working on the revisions of book two in the Sword and Shields series again.  I started drafting this book before Strong Fort Spathí (book one) was even released.  I’ve been working on the revisions for more than two years.

Editing is hard.

This draft has been through a few dozen rounds of editing and revising so far.  One round broke the story into two books.  A later round brought it back together into a single book.  This round has involved a brutal amount of cutting, re-writing, and re-drafting.

I’m making progress.  Work is getting done.  But it’s so slow compared to drafting that I often find myself getting discouraged.

It takes so much more time to take 150,000 words worth of rough draft and transform it into 60,000 slightly different words of rough draft.  Easily three or four times as long as it took me to write the original 150,000 words.  You have to cut some of your favorite scenes because they just don’t move the story along.  You have to restructure the time-line of the story and shuffle around who is where when.  You have to keep track of a million little details that you’ve changed one place and now have to change in six other places if those places make it through the next round of cuts.

I’m not trying to complain.  Writing is something I love, and since I also want to share that writing, the revision process is necessary.  But it’s not my favorite part of the process either.  That can make it harder to sit down to work on it and I find myself procrastinating, something I almost never do while I’m drafting.

I find myself using all the little motivational techniques that come up during NaNoWriMo.  I set smaller goals to reach and reward myself when I get there.  I set specific times when I’m going to work on the book.  I tell other people I’m doing it so they’ll ask how it’s going and make me feel guilty when I’m not making progress.  (And I don’t mean they literally make me feel guilty.  They’re always very supportive, but having to tell them I’m not making progress makes me feel guilty.)  I set an editing goal for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, too, and I’ll do it again in July.  Though July’s number may be a little more realistic since I didn’t win April Camp.

It seems to be working.  Progress is happening.  I got another 20k revised in May.  But I still feel like I’m working too slowly and not getting enough done.

How do you motivate yourself to work through the editing process (or any other task you don’t care for but understand you must do)?

5 thoughts on “News Flash: Editing Is Hard

  1. Editing is hard, but also necessary. I use a timer, set for 20 minutes to help me. I have to keep working as hard as I can for 20 minutes, but I know when the timer buzzes I can get up and stretch, get a fresh drink, move around for ten minutes. Then I set the timer again for another 20 minutes. Sometimes I get a little housework done during my ten minute breaks: throw a load of laundry in, get something out of the freezer to thaw, etc. I can concentrate on anything if I know it just for a little while. I get LOTS more done this way that I do if I just stay at the computer and keep slogging.

    • I occasionally do that method with drafting when I’m out with other writers, but I haven’t tried it yet with revision. I’ll have to give that a go and see how it works for me. Thanks for sharing!

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