Editing – the Monkey on a Writer’s Back


“Wow! How do you find time to write a novel?”

The mantra of the aspiring writer and impartial observer alike.

Personally speaking, NaNoWriMo has cured me of my inability to find time to write. Once a year that terrifying deadline comes along and, with the exception of the year I moved house in December and spent most of November packing instead of writing, I can always find the time to dig out those words and lay them down in some kind of order. No, the problem for me is finding the time to edit afterwards.

Every rough draft is total plop. Every first pass at a story requires a varying degree of revision. In my case it usually requires a lot of revision. I have never been even remotely happy with a rough draft so editing is really REALLY important.

Last year for NaNoWriMo I wrote the rough draft for Echo, a thriller about a transplant patient who is the recipient of a heart who is then haunted by the donor. When I finished the novel I intended to take a break in December and pick up the editing in January. Of course, January turned to February, February turned to March and March turned to… September and nearly the end of September at that. I have picked it up, I have done a first pass to pick out glaring errors and amendments, but beyond that… No-one is likely to be reading it anytime soon. Echo needs some pretty big structural changes and a fair bit of additional writing to make those changes work. It’s all a bit daunting. And the truth is, writing’s fun, editing… is… not.

So making time to write isn’t that hard. All you need is a deadline and a lot of caffeine. Making time to edit is hard. Because editing is hard. Because it’s not fun. Sob.

“Discipline!” I hear you shout. Yeah, I need to get me some of that and quick because hopefully in a couple of months I’ll have three projects in progress. And it would be nice to get a bit closer to that lofty title ‘published author’. So I have formulated a plan!

Late last year I discovered a planning / organising / journaling method called The Bullet Journal. (I may cover the concept on my blog at some point in the future, but for now, if you want to know more, check out bulletjournal.com.) I’ve found that giving myself a deadline for blog posts and keeping it right there in my journal has been really helpful: I know that I have to publish a blog post on a Saturday, and I can see that deadline marked, so each week I look through and find a slot of time to get the job done. Even if I can’t do it Saturday, I can fit it in some day before and then schedule the post to publish automatically. I’m going to try the same technique with my edit: set a deadline and then find the time in my week and make it happen. Can it really be that simple? Check back in a few weeks and find out.

What about you? Do you have trouble getting the edit done or is it your favourite part of the process? Do you have any strategies for finding the time to edit? Leave me a comment and impart your secret voodoo knowledge!


2 thoughts on “Editing – the Monkey on a Writer’s Back

  1. I personally prefer editing to writing. There’s just something liberating about spoting something you don’t like and realising that, as the author, you have to power to change it.

    Also, while I certainly don’t claim to have any secret voodo knowledge of editing, I have discussed it (and will continue to discuss it) on my website so feel free to take a look: https://jedhernewriter.wordpress.com/?p=323


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