How Not to Hate Editing: A Guest Post by Abigayle Ellison
Hello everyone! Since I was away this weekend and did not get around to making a post for the week I have conscripted the lovely Abigayle from The Left-handed Typist to write about her editing process. She is one of the rare few and precious souls who actually enjoys the horrific task of cleaning up your haphazardly thrown together manuscript, and she's about to tell you just why that is. Enjoy and keep an open mind, I know I certainly enjoyed reading it! Don't forget to check out her blog as well by following the link above!
Now, without further ado, I shall turn it over to her...
Editing. It's either your least favorite step of writing or how you like to spend your free time. I'm gonna make a crazy guess that most of you fall in the first category. I happen to fall in the second. What makes the difference? How can I love absorbing a story, eye peeled for errors, so much more than the average person? I know what you're thinking: it's just something I like. Very true. But I'm going to do my best to share the joy I find when editing with you so that maybe
hopefully it won't seem like the same mundane task by the end of this post.
When I edit for myself or other people, there are several things I require:
- time ~ I'm not going to get anything done in 10 minutes. An hour chunk is much better.
- space ~ I hate not having all my stuff I might need/want around me. I'll wander the house like a maniac and lose my train of thought if I don't have everything in my own space beforehand.
- interest ~ I do have to be in the editing mode. Sometimes my mental energy and focus just isn't there. But if you have a really good story I am 34x more likely to edit more often. (But if I get waylayed, that doesn't mean I hate your story.)
I cannot emphasize the importance of all these things. Editing is no easy task, even for me. Don't make it any harder on yourself than it has to be. :)
~When I edit for others~
When I edit for others, it's just like reading a good book. Because every submission I have had so far, despite being in its first stages, has been excellent. The important thing about this is that no matter how much editing you may do, your voice will come through. You can't edit it out and others can't edit it in. It will shine through even in the preliminary stages laden with errors and holes.
The only difference between reading and editing is if something strikes me as not quite right or there is an error, I can nudge the author and recommend a change. This is the neatest thing ever. Because not only do I get to talk to the author of the book I'm reading, I get to put some of myself into their book as well! Have you ever thought about that? If you beta read for someone, your suggestions that they weigh become instilled in the very pages that will one day be published. The novel could not become what it does with the trusty pairs of eyes that give it a read.
Another amazing thing about getting to read for others is you are saving them time while getting a good story! I mean, just think about it. There are some things you will not catch in your own writing. And there are errors that you could not possibly find all of even if you search your novel. With a handy editor/beta reader, you don't have to!
Editing for others is a win-win and a huge blessing. (And, yes, even fun!) Don't ever underestimate the power of words and the thought that has been put into them.
~When I edit for myself~
Switching to editing for myself, it's a pain. There's no way around it. But it's okay to dislike it. Do I enjoy spending hours losing sleep while trying to weed out my 50 adverbs a chapter? No. Do I appreciate a grand new plot idea at chapter 20? Definitely not. Again, I do not expect you to love doing this. No one does. I enjoy editing and I still hate it . . . if that makes any sense? I mean, no one likes to read one chapter looking for adverbs, dialogue tags, plot holes, inconsistencies, change of tense, blah blah blah. And then you start it all over again with the next chapter.
Please tell me I'm not the only one.
My main advice here is to keep a broad perspective. Don't think about the mess your WIP is at the moment. Think of everything you want it to be. Without the sweat and tears that you put into it, it would not be the same. The reader may not read the time you spent between the lines. And that's a good thing, because they are benefiting from the end product. Stop and think about all the books you have read that were completely effortless. Everything about them just flowed off the page. Do you really think that's what the first draft looked like? Even your most treasured authors worked.
Just to help relate this arduous task to life, think about all the things you don't enjoy doing that you do anyway. Maybe it's flossing or weeding the garden. Now think about why you do those things. Wasn't it worth it? Writing is work and editing is toil. But remember that work existed before the Fall. It wasn't part of the sin curse. There was going to be effort required for results in a cause and effect universe even in a perfect world. Keep in mind your goal: to bless others. Isn't that worth some effort, some toil? I certainly think so. In the end, dislike editing or not, how I can hate something so good?
Excellent post, Abigayle! Thank you so much for sharing it with myself and the good souls who tarry upon my blog page. Please readers, don't forget to check out Abi's blog located right here and check out some of her other fabulous articles, she's got a lot of great stuff to share with us. :)
If you've got a comment or question about editing, leave it here and I will let Abi answer your remarks as she sees fit, since it is her post after all.
Thank you for reading!