Okay… I shouldn’t be this scared of editing

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I’ve been waiting a long time to get back to the Dagger Trilogy (I know I’ve pined longingly in more that one blog post for this particular set of characters). And now that this magical moment has arrived I feel…well, pretty confused, actually.

The ‘magical moment’ actually arrived a few weeks ago. I read through the Trilogy for the first time in many months and felt so pumped up and ready to dive into revisions. I rearranged my wall of post it notes. I chose a problem area to focus on and outlined a few new scenes.

This is my Post It wall. Isn't it pretty????

This is my Post It wall. Isn’t it pretty????

And then I stared at the computer screen for a couple weeks until I decided it was time to check my e-mail again.

It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the project. Truly, I love it more than ever, and it’s so exciting to have fresh eyes on it after such a long immersion in other projects. Honestly, I think I’m just scared.

After doing final edits on the Clocks book, I’ve forgotten how messy my early drafts look. (Seriously. Messier than my bedroom. Which is saying a LOT.) It just seems so fragile, like the skeleton of a building when it first reaches the stage of, “Oh, I guess they’re building a house.”

I have this irrational feeling that if I start working on this plot again, I might knock down what’s already good about it. I know that’s not how writing works, particularly since I save backup drafts of every stage of the process. But still, it’s holding me back, and I wish it wouldn’t.

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Has this happened to any of you? Any suggestions on how to break out of it?

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13 responses »

  1. Forget about what it looks like now. Concentrate about what it will look like when you finish. You’ve done this before, and yes, it’s messy–but the results are worth it, right?

  2. I am currently dealing with a lot of this. :p I am here to talk if you want to see if we can convince ourselves to… maybe break some of those bones to make them stronger and take out the wisdom teeth and tails that the skeletons really don’t need.

    • Oh. My. Goodness. I can’t even tell you how much I love your wisdom teeth analogy ❤

      And I am totally up for a “It’s okay to actually work on our rough drafts” session! That sounds awesome 🙂 I’m thinking tea and cookies and some much-needed ranting about whyyyy this process is so hard. (And some productive brainstorming. That would be good too.) Message me sometime, and we’ll set something up!

  3. I know that feel! I’m editing a novel that I knew needed a lot of work. I printed it out and started writing in corrections, but when typing it up, I started shifting scenes around. I have scenes I need to add, scenes I pasted into another document and now have no idea where to put, my notes are a mess from trying to find the typos on the rearranged scenes so I can’t find anything anymore, and I still haven’t gotten to the scenes at the end where I named someone Pickle because I was too focused on writing to bother looking up a name.

    Editing is a big job, and it’s messy, but think of how awesome your book is going to be once it’s all sorted and together 🙂

    • Ohhhh thank you for that! It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. (And also REALLY nice to know I’m not the only one to give characters bogus names in a first draft. Although I have to admit, “Pickle” is rather ingenious. Please tell me you were eating pickles at the time or something 🙂 )

      So here’s a question then: once you have all those notes and kinda sorta know what direction you’re headed, where do you actually start? Like, part of me wants to start adding the new scenes, but another part says I should focus on fixing what’s already there.

      • It depends, really. I’m not in any hurry to edit, so there’s no harm in putting off writing those extra scenes, and if I wait and rearrange the whole book first, then I know exactly what the scenes need to contain. Like scene one needs to get from point A to point B and mention MC’s fear of heights, then scene 3 needs to progress to point G and show some interaction between the MC and her love interest where the MC reveals her deep and abiding love for beetles (or you know, something legit 😛 ). There’s no right or wrong way to do it, it’s all about how you want to go about things.

  4. Hi Olivia. I’m not a fan of the edit and re-write phase myself, so I don’t have a set strategy. What I did for No Distance To Run (my first book) was to identify where the ‘holes’ were, and then write that piece, reread (whilst proofing and in logical brain mood) and find how best to fit or shuffle things around in a new version. Then send it out to readers and see if it works better. Hope this helps 😀 Leenna

    • It does, actually. I always struggle about when I should send it out to my first round of readers. Like, I want the book to make sense, but I also know it gets exponentially better after I have beta comments on it. (haha.. logical brain mood… I know exactly what you’re talking about!)

  5. This happens to me all the time. I get scared that by changing it I’ll make it somehow worse. Then I get caught in an editing loop and fail to go further.
    Hope it all unsticks for you soon. It would be a waste for that pretty wall not to be used!

  6. Your outline wall is beautiful! I just started revising my own WIP. I ended up completely rewriting my first chapter but I don’t think the original draft went to waste–I reused a few lines in new places and realizing what I didn’t like about it helped me forge a new direction that I am much happier with. I think for me going through it chapter by chapter is working. However, I did outline thoroughly before I started and after I finished my rough draft I wrote tons of notes attached to each chapter detailing what I thought needed work so that gave me a bit of a game plan. Still there are some days where I still feel like I’m never going to be able to finish this.

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