The Madness of Editing

Sometimes being a writer can be such a headache! And I mean that in the best possible way. To be a great writer without the help and advice of top editors, agents and publishers puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of a DIY writer. You have to consider everything, going over and over your work until you begin to question the whole shebang and just can’t look at it anymore.

I’ve found that each time I begin a new edit, I find things I want to change, tiny errors that I overlooked last time and even consider throwing the towel in completely (that only happened the one time though!). I just received my last proof (or so I hope!), but have noticed minuscule, but crucial changes that need making. Font size, aligning a paragraph that was added in later than the rest, perfecting the cover. It all has to be right, but when every detail is buzzing around inside your head like a gang of pesky wasps, it can begin to feel a little maddening.

When it gets to a point where it’s one thing after another, you begin to wonder if the end will ever be in sight. At this stage, it’s very easy to forget the loveliness and enjoyment of writing and reading when you become so weighed down by this need for perfectionism, but it’s important not to give up. It can be tough to fit it in with everything else you have to keep up with in your daily life, but eventually you will get there, and so will I! Stick at it, even when you feel weary and lacklustre as a writer. Make the time and get on with what needs doing until you get excited again and realise what you’re doing this for.

Editing can be tedious, arduous and uninspiring if you’re going at it alone. That’s why it’s so important to get help. I’ve sent proof copies to friends who, as readers, would fall into my ‘target market’ category. I know they’ll give me honest and constructive criticism, which is essential to your editing process. You may not have the best editors in the world, but a good friend who likes to read is the next best thing! Fresh eyes are a gift, so accept the help of anyone who offers to read your work. Appreciate and take their feedback. Work it into your novel with care and creativity.

Another piece of advice is to make a checklist of what’s left to do. Mine is scrawled down on a scrappy bit of note paper, but it is a fantastic guideline to show me how far I have left to go. My list goes something like this:

  • Reformat
  • Punctuation
  • Improve dialogue
  • Merge chapters
  • Cover
  • Final check

It’s scrappy and it’s vague, but it makes sense to me and shows me where I stand in the big picture. Plus it is satisfying to tick these items off one by one. I definitely recommend it!

It’s no secret that the best things in life are often the ones you have to work the hardest for, and that certainly applies here. After all those hours of toiling away to create something beautiful, creative and unique, why let yourself fall at the final hurdle?

The main thing to keep in mind is the final product. When it’s ready, it will all be worth it – the work that you did alone, put your heart and soul into, perhaps your sweat and tears? Don’t just accept ‘good enough’. If you know it’s not quite there, hold off on publishing. The self-publishing process will always take longer than expected if you are intent on creating a good quality, readable, professional looking product. Strive for perfection, the book you want to publish, however long it takes.

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Christina Crook
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