You’ve finished the first draft of your book. Hooray for you! *Fist bumps all around.*
But if you’re anything like me, you now find yourself faced with the dreaded editing phase of your work. I’d rather run and hide. What is it about editing that makes it so hard? Maybe it’s the part where you make yourself sit in one place with your nose pressed into the mess of sentences you thought made sense at the time. Or perhaps it’s the fact that mentally you’ve “moved on” from this story and you’re eager to get going on the first draft of your next book that you can’t stop thinking about.
Even if your end game is to self-publish right away, or send it off to your beta-readers and/or editors for another look, one thing is certain; you have to polish up that prose before releasing it into the wild.
I was born and raised in the South. My mother was the very much a Southern lady, meaning she never left the house without looking her best (hair “done” and full makeup on). Had they been available at the time, yoga pants and giant hoodies would not have been an option. (What would the neighbors think?!)
Blame it on moving to Vermont or laziness on my part, but I’ve since developed my own sense of what’s a fashion do or don’t in terms of personal appearance.
However, when it comes to sending a manuscript out into the wild, perhaps we can all learn a thing or two from Southern fashion sense. Always look your best.
So here are four ideas to combat the editing frumpiness:
- Put it away. It may not make sense. But just don’t do the editing. At least not right away. You’ve spent a lot of time working on that manuscript. It’s very likely you’ve been so fully involved in it, you would “see the forest for the trees.” Because of the proximity to the work, you can miss errors great and small. So, give yourself a break from the work. Lock it away on your desktop (or in a filing cabinet if you’re old school) and resist the urge to touch your book for a while. (We’re talking at least a weak.) Use that time to clear your headspace. If something occurs to you during that time, DO NOT touch the manuscript. Write yourself a note that makes sense in your handy dandy notepad that you keep with you as a dutiful author. Consult said notepad when its time to dive back in with a fresh new perspective. Of course, all of this only works if you don’t have a deadline.
- Speaking of perspective. Been staring at the computer or the laptop screen for edits? Why not send yourself the file and look at it on your e-reader device (or e-reader app)? It changes your view and will help pick out things that may have been staring you in your face the whole time. Don’t know how to “side load” a file to your reader? Check out these handy-dandy instructions on how to email a doc to your Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email
- Entertain your pets. If you’ve decided to dig into the edits and you keep wondering why you don’t like a particular passage, try reading aloud to your dog (or cat). Our internal voices experience things differently from our actual voice. Reading something aloud can help you pick up on awkward word choices or flow that’s not working well.
- Go on a (word-loss) diet. I’m calling in a ringer for this one, guys. In her book, The Word-Loss Diet: Professional Self-Editing Techniques for Authors, Rayne Hall outlines some pretty remarkable techniques to tackle the editing process. Some of them are actually kind of fun (once you get over discovering things about your own horrifying overuse of certain words or phrases). Say you’ve reached a point where you think you’ve “caught” all the flubs, but there’s something missing, then this is the book you should try. In fact, her whole Writer’s Craft series is quite awesome. Here’s a link to the Amazon page: https://amzn.com/B00AWA7XEE
If this post didn’t give it away, I’m currently editing my way through the first draft book three of my Allies and Enemies series. With a little luck, it should hit the virtual shelves by mid/late November. So be sure to check back in for updates.