Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Different Approach

If you're a writer, you've probably heard the phrase, "Just write; editing comes later."  It's very good advice, but I'm abandoning it for my latest endeavor.  Before you gasp, I will say that I do not recommend this for new writers.  New writers shouldn't second guess themselves every step of the way.  New writers should write and practice writing.  Editing can come later.

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.
When I finish, my book should almost be done.  I'll do one last pass on the whole book before sending it off to my proofreaders.

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.


  1. I hope your new system works out! It sounds like you know that editing is a problem for you, so it will be probably be a good idea to edit as you go. Then it won't feel so overwhelming. :) Best of luck!

  2. I feel your pain - I hate editing. I have about 7 short stories (and one in progress) not edited that I want to work on this year. It's such a slow process.