Take Time from a Work Before You Edit

Last week, I finally started editing The Pack, a novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo more than a year ago.

At the time, I really liked it, thought it had a lot of potential. A couple people in my writers group and a friend read through it and gave me notes.

Every writer has their personal preference, and it is important to figure out what works for you. It usually takes a couple books to figure it out, by the way, so don’t freak out about mistakes or wasted time and money. We all do it. Learn from it and move on.

For me, I have gotten to the point where I write a rough draft, just make myself write it, get it done, and then I send it out to torture a couple Beta readers, get their feedback. Most of the time, what I’m looking for is story and character related issues, the big picture stuff. I’ll even ask questions AFTER they read it, if I have a sense that certain parts need work.

By the way, if you have a sense certain parts need work, then they probably do. No. They absolutely do.

This takes time. And it should. As an artist, I want immediate feedback. I feel it is awesome because I just gave birth to this thing, and like any parent, the kid is the most beautiful thing in the world. But it is not a kid, and books become great not in the writing but in the revising.

In order to be more objective of my work, I have to take a step back and work on something else. First time, I write it as I see it and experience it; I’m the artist. Second time through, I’m a reader, an editor, looking for anything that can make it better. In order to do that, there has to be enough distance to be at least a little objective in order to slash and burn and rewrite. And the Beta readers help in that process, obviously.

Use that time to write other things, do other writing exercises, explore another project, READ A TON. Live life. Go on a vacation. All of it.

I had two projects to finish before I got back to The Pack – edit and revise and publish Make a God and then write The Fire Reborn┬árough draft – and I thought they would be done quickly. They weren’t. They both took more time than I had planned.

So I’m back to The Pack, and as I read it now, I realize it needs a great deal of work. I might have to literally rewrite the whole thing. It is good and the idea is great, but the theme and the flow need to be more clear, both more concise and explored in more depth, if that makes sense.

The emotions involved and the amount of work are daunting. This tests whether or not you’re a writer. Most people don’t finish one book. Even fewer people have the courage and discipline to get through the revision process. And all that happens before you get to an editor and possibly publishing, depending on your venue.

Take breaks but get back to it. If the idea is good enough, the book is worth the effort you put into it.

Peace.

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