Monday, November 9, 2009

Itching to Edit

Sorry if the title of my post gives you a bad visual, but I want to edit my MS soooooooo bad right now. I've got some great feedback on my first few chapters, and I want to go back and fix them. Right now. But I made a promise to editing unless I have something major that has to be fixed before I can move on.

My head feels like it could explode. It's that perfectionist personality that I have. The thought of having those pesky little things just sitting there, begging to be tweaked, is driving me insane.

But on the other hand, my characters are starting to whisper to me now. When are you going to finish the story??!! We're waiting....

When I started writing, I had no idea how much I would like the revising part. I just figured I would be so excited to write the story, that the editing would be a pain. And I probably will feel like that when the first draft is done. But a part of me feels that I can't do a good job if I leave a mess behind me. It's like an addiction!

Now, I have made a little progress this weekend. I got 1100 new words in, but I need to do better. I'm thinking of setting a daily word count goal. I resisted doing that before because I figured it would kill all creativity, but I've got to do something. Or else this book may never be finished!

How do you resist the urge to go back and edit your MS to death before it's finished?


  1.'s sooo hard. LOL I'm learning this as I go through Nano..I have had some success in keeping myself from revising the Nano project if I take 20 minutes and revise/edit a different project. It also helps to critique for others. Lots of bribery!! :)

  2. I feel your pain! Every time I open my story file, I have to scroll down to the bottom as quickly as I can. I know that if I see one error, I'll have to edit it ... and then I'll edit another, and another, and another. Have you ever heard of that Write or Die website? You set a word count goal and a time limit, and if you don't write that many words within the time limit, it automatically starts to erase your work as punishment. It's pretty intense but I've heard it's effective!

  3. I fell into the editing trap Melane--don't do it! Once you're in the rut it's hard to get out! I'm a total perfectionist, so I feel your pain, but learn from my mistake. Something does happen the deeper you get into your story, things start to click and come together in your head--which is good. That's what you want. It shows you what scenes you really need and how your characters really think and if you go back and edit before that you'll end up throwing it all away because it still won't be quite right (I'm speaking from personal experience here.)

    My trick: if I'm really unhappy with something and feel the NEED to go back and fix it, I print the pages up and mark the crud out of them with a bright red pen. It only takes 20 minutes or so (because you can't actually make any of the changes) and I feel better because in a small way I got to institute the changes I wanted to make. It does waste paper though. I know some people don't like that and will do the same thing by inserting comments in Word so you could try that--but that's dangerous because then you're in the document and it's SO easy to start changing and deleting.

    Hope that helps.

  4. It's hard not to edit as you go. Sometimes I like doing it, while other times I find it wastes my time. So I think I agree with your original assessment, unless it's plot related, I will plug away.

  5. I edited as I went on my last book and it ended up taking me two years to finish. My advice is to write and write and write, then reread and revise at the end. Even then, save a copy of your original work in case you get too delete-happy.

  6. Wow. I felt like I was reading my own post during this! I feel exactly the same way.

    I love, love Shannon's tip. I will definitely try it!

  7. I reread previous chapters to get back into the zone and do edits while I'm at it... but just little ones. I promise myself a full-scale edit after I'm done and that gets me onto writing another chapter rather than just obsessing.

  8. I don't re-read at all. I know it's a mess but I just pretend it's not. If things occur to me as I write (ie changes that need to be made) I just jot it into my notebook and then address all those issues at the end.

    Editing whilst writing kills my creativity.

    Good luck with it.

  9. I'm editing as I go right now. I suppose I'm not normal, because everyone above seems to think that's a bad thing. I have to say though, Julie spotted something in the very beginning that totally changed my story. Then again, it is a "plot" change, so it is necessary to edit before I move on.

    I'm not the only one that does this. I've heard other authors say that sometimes they get stuck, because they know that there are certain edits that need to be done in order for them to keep moving forward.

    I would definitely set a word count goal. It will help you. I'm sure. I've set mine at 1000 per day, which is a little high, but I've found that once I'm in the story it just flows from my fingers to the page before I even know it.

  10. Editing is my favorite part. I look forward to it so much. I don't really have any advice about not going back and revising... it's hard but I have to just force myself to get through to the end of the story. So far it's gotten a little easier with each book :)

  11. Fight the urge, other than little edits (and definitely turn off any feature on your word processing software that underlines misspellings or supposed grammar problems). Like Wendy, I reread a few pages as I get into the groove of the story and will tweak little things, but my mantra is "Move Forward." And that doesn't happen if you are continually going back.

    About the word count thing, I'd vote not to pressure yourself. I've done this and gotten some assignment-like flat writing. I also think the impulse is there to just hit the word total and stop, instead of continuing on and enjoying the writing like you might do without the word goal. And once you are in the word count habit, it's hard to break (but I am working on it everyday). I enjoyed writing much more before I cared about such things.

    Good luck and remember that this is fun, so rewards are better than punishments.

  12. It's harder than the Chicken Pox!

    But my internal editor is on lock down right now. No daylight until the first of the year or I will never make past the first draft.

  13. I can't resist the urge to edit! If I know something's wrong with what I've written I can't go on until it's fixed. Everything I've read says this is not a good way to write, but it works for me, and I've finally decided to stop fighting it.

    Don't be like me! Resist the urge to edit!

  14. I constantly fight this battle too. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don't. But I will say having a completed messy rough draft does feel better than only having a perfectly polished first chapter.

  15. I, too, have to immediately scroll to the end of my ms when I open it. It's hard to focus on any kind of new scene when I know there's something evil lurking in a previous paragraph!
    And usually I'm annoyed with myself when I finally print out the completed first draft because some things are just SO BAD.
    But editing as I go will only make me batty. Good luck!

  16. An award for you on my blog :)

  17. You know that's a hard one. I guess I'm the type of person that gets so engrossed in my current story, and that is what keeps me from editing my other one. At least that is how it is right now... LOL Resist!

    My biggest problem is editing while I go. I want to go back to the beginning each time I find something new out, but that is something I try to resist, need to get it finished first right?

    Good Luck :)