While I only have two works published, I'm not a new writer. I'm working on my eighth novel. None of my novels have been published, because I get hung up on the editing process. I'm so excited about writing the story, and I write my book in less than two months. Then I hit the wall.
My wall is editing. It's so giant that I can't see a way to climb it, let alone figure out how to get to the other side. So I've decided that my wall needs a door.
I am abandoning the really good advice that got me to seven novels in the first place. After writing a chapter, I'm going to edit it to make it the best chapter it can be. I'm crazy, right?
My new approach to writing:
- Outline the whole book. My outlines are super long. They have some choppy dialogue, description as it comes to me, random notes, and whatever pops in my head. I might have a 600 word outline for a 3,000 word chapter. My outlines, in essence, are the first draft of a story. It's easy to add and subtract things in this state because the writing doesn't have finesse yet. It's also allows me to developmentally review my book before I really start writing.
- Write a chapter. I need to slow down while I write and take time to imagine each scene. I'm especially having trouble with this piece, since world building is a massive part of my story. But the next step should also help with this.
- Edit the chapter. This will happen two to four times.
- First pass: Check the description and the character development. Are things unfolding the way they need to be? Is the pacing for this chapter good?
- Second pass: Grammar, sentence structure, tightening paragraphs. Is there a better way to say something? Are the emotions coming out okay?
- Third pass: Another line editing pass.
- Fourth pass: Proofreading / last minute fixes.
- Write the next chapter.
Editing my own work has always been a headache and hangup for me. I like to reward myself for editing, so I end up playing a tons of video games when I could be writing.
My new reward system will be: "Once you finish editing this chapter, you get to write the next one."
Writing, something I love, will get me through editing, something I struggle with. I should mention, while I struggle with my own editing, I love editing for my clients.
I'll be sure to blog with an update of how this is working for me! So far, I really like this idea in theory... now to test it.