The panic has set in.
If you read last Tuesday’s post, you’ll know I finished the first draft of my fantasy novel. I’ve been eagerly looking forward to the editing phase of this whole project for months. I couldn’t wait to get to the end and dive right back in to clean it up and make it the best it can possibly be. I decided to take a week off from writing to give myself some distance from it to come back with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of productivity. Well, it’s been over a week and where’s my renewed sense of productivity? I can’t find it and I’ve looked everywhere.
The “woes” part of “Book Talk and Writing Woes” is really setting in. My WIP is a monstrous thing with so many pages and words and things I know need changing but I just don’t know where to start. I figured I’d sit down and write a list of things I already know I want to move or change or things that need more/less attention etc., but that list isn’t as helpful as I’d thought it’d be. I opened the document and sat staring at it for a long time doing absolutely nothing with my mind simultaneously blank and roaring with every little thing that needs to be done. I just can’t explain how overwhelming the whole thing feels because it’s so different from just sitting and writing. Writing isn’t always easy and some days are better than others, but it’s a lot easier than editing. At least it is for me so far, since I haven’t done any real editing yet. Writing requires figuring all the big stuff out and planning, of course, but it’s also enjoyable to just sit and delve into the world with my characters and write. Now that the story is finished (far from done but fully written), I see it as a whole huge thing that needs to be perfected and it’s intimidating.
I’ve watched a thousand videos and looked up tips to help me get started but they’ve all just told me what I already know. I’m prepared to be ruthless—I’ll cut this thing to pieces and glue it back together if necessary—but I’m just having a hard time starting. So it’s time for me to just buckle down and dive in. Maybe editing is a bit like writing and the scariest part is just starting. I know that’s how I felt when I began my WIP, I wrote beginnings then deleted them because I hated every word. This happened a few times before I just stuck with one and told myself to keep going and I could change it later. I hope it’s the case for this too.
So the plan…I still don’t have one. I’m a very hands on person and can’t just do everything on a computer, even if that is where all of the writing takes place. I like to write my ideas down on paper so I’m considering just printing the whole beast and going at it with a load of highlighters and pens. That’s really the only way I think I could go about this. To see it as a physical thing with pages I can flip through and write on could be very helpful.
Here are some of the things I know I want to tackle: word count, the first place we meet a certain character needs to be cleaned up and cut back to eliminate a pretty long section that can be reduced to something quicker and more impactful and I want a relationship arc to become more defined. Those are only a few on my mind right now. I’m really not worried about word count right now because getting the actual story perfect is so much more important and I figure that will be more of a priority in later drafts, along with line edits.
Here’s the fun part (for me only), I’m calling any and all writers reading this to help a first-time-editor out. If you have any tips at all or wouldn’t mind sharing a little of your editing process with me, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear what fellow writers do when they feel as overwhelmed as I do right now.
Thanks for reading!