Hello all! I am back from a long hiatus. It’s November and I hope all of you motivated writers participating in National Novel Writing Month are enjoying yourselves. As the month comes to a close, some of you will move on to the revising phase. Everyone has their method of writing in general. Do you fall under one of the following categories?
a. Do you write everything until the end and then begin the editing process?
b. Do you edit while you go along?
c. Do you ever STOP EDITING?
From experience, I can say d. all of the above. Do I ever stop editing? It sure doesn’t seem that way! But I will add that there are different kinds of revision, at least for me. The kind of editing I do while I am writing is light revision; basically, I restructure some sentences or dialogue and add to descriptive scenes. Then there is heavy editing, which I leave for when I’m completely finished with the manuscript. Between the two, revising can look like an infinite process.
Now that leads me to my next question: when do you know when to stop editing? The answer is simple: you stop editing if you have a deadline to make or until you are happy with the end result. I deemed my most recent novel “complete” about two years ago, but after several light revisions, was not satisfied with it. It seemed no matter what I did, I was not connecting with it. It read like a first draft. It felt alien to me. Long story short (pun intended) I almost settled with the notion that I could not improve it, only to realize that I had been editing too lightly. In fact, I recognized much later on that I was too afraid to tear it apart! I had spent so many months trying to change my work with minimal effort for the sake of the connection I had to my word count. I didn’t want to undo all of my hard work and investment, but I needed to come up with something. I needed to be brave. So I was, and nearly scraped the entire thing in the process. I chopped over half of my word count. It was a painful process, to say the least, but worth it. I even shifted around a few chapters. It was the revelation I had been waiting for, the epiphany that filled me with so much happiness that I wept a few tears of joy.
Now I am going through a light edit of it, more so just checking for consistencies in the things I have changed. It should be done by the end of next week. Editing has gone full circle; I gave my novel a major overhaul, including its cover design. Am I happy with my end result? As happy as a writer can be. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that as writers, we may never be completely satisfied with our work. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t let that become an obstacle. Not everyone will love your work…blame human nature and statistics. The important thing is that you love your work. With all that said, be brave fellow writers! Revise – and have fun!~