Today, I’m going to walk you through how editing in stages can save you time, and frustration.
I’ll also show you how it can make the self-editing process more fun.
What do we want?
More fun, more time and less frustration!
When do we want it?
When you start self-editing your manuscript, you may be tempted to fix everything you come across.
A plot hole here, a typo there, a grammatically incorrect sentence over there…
All these changes require different thought processes. This means that you’re constantly switching from one way of thinking to another, which can cost you a lot of time.
On top of that, you can spend hours making sure your first chapter is error-free before taking a look at the bigger picture and realising there’s a gaping plot hole that will require a massive rewrite.
All that time spent on those little details will have been in vain, which leads us to the next point…
#2 – How Editing in Stages Limits Frustration
If you ignore details like spelling and sentence flow in the first editing stage and focus on the big picture instead, eliminating or rewriting chunks of text will be less frustrating because you’ve spent less time perfecting it.
The same goes for the well-known ‘Kill your darlings’.
When you spend a lot of time bonding with a character or a specific scene by making it the best it can be in every aspect, only to realise it doesn’t fit into the big picture, it will be like ripping your heart out when you remove it.
If you save that bonding for later on in the process, it may still be difficult to let go of a character or a scene. But it will probably be more like saying goodbye to a super cool person you just met on holiday, rather than breaking off a super intense summer relationship.
Just like with any relationship, make sure to get the groundwork right before moving on. If your date turns out to be a cheater, they’ll be much easier to toss aside at the beginning of the relationship.
Plus, you won’t have spent a ton of money on presents!
Which brings us to the next point…
#3 – How Editing in Stages Can Make the Process More Fun
Editing, fun? Absolutely!
When you edit in stages, instead of waiting to bump your head or your toe against an issue as you read, you’ll be focused on a specific element every time you go through your writing.
It’s like treasure hunting!
Many writers consider getting to know their characters and coming up with new ideas as the most fun part of writing.
Somehow, the common belief is that editing only has to do with boring tasks like fixing typos. Nothing could be further from the truth!
A large portion of the time, you’ll be bonding with your characters as you edit. You get to know them on a really deep level in order to bring their personalities across to the reader.
You’ll have to come up with new ideas to fix plot holes or connect multiple scenes.
And each editing stage calls for a different kind of creativity: Character development and world-building as well as coming up with big, new ideas during the developmental edit, giving characters their authentic voices and allowing the readers to connect with the story during the line edit…
This will also help you combat editing overwhelm.
By cutting the self-editing process into specific steps with specific goals to achieve, you’ll make the idea of editing much more manageable.
There’s a clear beginning and a clear end, and you know what? There’s plenty of celebration involved!
Because writing and editing is supposed to be fun.
It’s not supposed to make you go crazy or feel frustrated and helpless.
You started writing because it’s something you want to do, and there’s no reason editing should be any different.
If you ever do feel stuck or overwhelmed by the editing process, make sure to reach out. There are plenty of writers out there who feel the same way you do, and those negative feelings can be turned into positive ones.
A great place to look for editing encouragement and motivation is the free Under the Willow community.
Will you be editing in stages after this post? Were you already doing that? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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