That’s the sound of one writer editing furiously.
You may recall this kaPOWerful post from early July, declaring my mission to finish my bulky edits by the time we leave for French Polynesia. By “bulky” I meant the rewrites, the new scenes, the untangling of plot-snarls, chunky stuff like that. Scary stuff like that… Before setting my goal, I had my list of must-edits locked in a cupboard while I cowered under a table.
What was I so scared of? I thought the scope of my revisions would be too daunting to summit, that I’d realize the book was one giant mess that I could never fix. But I reminded myself that big tasks are completed one small step at a time. I also realized that by stewing in my anxiety, I was making my anxiety last longer, so if I wanted to remove that anxiety I’d have to start editing.
I’m happy to say it’s been much less painful that expected!! I’m still in the midst of it, but here was my process:
First, I separated my whopping 12-page edit list into Bulky and Light: edits that would take time and thought, versus edits that would be small and fast. I resisted calling them “hard” and “easy” because I didn’t want to have any negative connotations about the process. That simple difference in language helped a LOT.
Second, I realized a lot of my edits required a full read-through, because they weren’t singular problems with this scene or that chapter. They were overarching – tone, characterization, world-building, consistency, etc. So I compiled those into their own list and set aside.
Next, I prioritized. Pressing concerns went at the top, less dire ones at the bottom. I also grouped similar tasks together, like issues regarding one person or place.
Lastly, I made a schedule. (Phew, tired yet?) To stay on track, I inserted landmark-dates for when I’d need various chunks finished.
Yes, I am hyper-vigilant about my organization. More sticky notes, please!
So once that was laid out, I started. Every weekday I chugged through one task after another, and amazingly enough, it wasn’t that stressful! The problems weren’t as insurmountable and earth-shattering as my frazzled brain imagined. One step at a time. Having a list where I could just find the next item and go made the process so much smoother too. And seeing that list whittled down smaller and smaller… Now that’s a morale boost.
And guess what… I finished my bulky list early! Then I did a rough read-through to beef up those overarching things I mentioned before. Now I’m in the thick of my light list, which I didn’t even think I’d get to until we returned from traveling. So my new goal is to have those done by our trip, too. After that, I’ll tackle the fine-tuning with another full read, or two, or ten. Hopefully I’ll finish by Christmas so that come January I can send to agents! Woo!
Oh, forgot to mention, I also have a writer-friend reading the pre-edited manuscript (yikes) and offering feedback. She won’t be finished for awhile, so I might have additional dragons to slay post-trip, but that’s okay.
Now if you’ll excuse me… Tacka tacka tacka tacka…