11 things you should know about editing your novel || namaste sunday

It's funny because one of my main reasons for starting a blog was so that I could have an outlet to rave on like a crazed street poet about writing, editing, and the neurotic and often unnerving lifestyles of writers. Most of the time though, it seems I'm too busy making fluffy words look pretty and serving them up like cotton candy to you blogger kids. So lets change that.

For three years (I think...? If not a full three then almost 3.) I've been working on a big, huge, YA novel project. I wrote it, and read it, edited it, and now I'm doing one last read/edit through, because... *drumroll* I actually have an editor now. Which means sending off the manuscript. Which means scrambling to get all 800+ pages ready.

Yes, I did just say eight hundred. I know, believe me, I really do. It's whacked.

So you can all probably guess what my week has looked like. Lots of coffee, chaos, editing, ripping ones hair out, and more editing. All day, every day.

So that being said, on the little break I've given myself over here, I thought it might be fun to put together a quick list of things you should know about editing. All the dark, mysterious secrets revealed. That sort of thing.

If your a normal person, this may just make you never want to write a book, so maybe you should stop reading now, because writing is REALLY ACTUALLY WONDERFUL and I would be heartbroken forever if I discouraged you from the mystical and ever illusive art. If you're a writer (aka, a not normal person), hopefully this will be at least somewhat entertaining. Blab and moan about your own experiences in the comments. ;)

By the way, yes. Another lovely pinterest photo-- this one is supposed to give you the impression that I scribble elegantly in a notebook beside a window overlooking an Italian landscape. This is indeed a falsehood, but a pleasant one, oui?


1. The temptation to get distracted will be STRONG. Editing isn't thrilling. In fact sometimes I find that its literally the last thing on earth I would chose to put myself through. Everything within close proximity to you that doesn't have to do with editing your manuscript will suddenly seem vastly appealing; books on shelves that you have never expressed interest in reading before, electronics of any kind, open tabs, etc.

2. THE INTERNET IS YOUR WORST ENEMY. Don't go on tumblr. Or twitter. It's a black hole. The seconds mount into minutes, into hours, into not editing. CLOSE ALL OF YOUR TABS. LOG OUT OF YOUR WIFI IF YOU HAVE TO. It can smell fear.

3. After a while, literally EVERYTHING looks the same. Same...is that how you spell same? Is same even a word? How many letters is that, four or five? Ow. My eyes.

4. It is HARD work. Editing a manuscript is an enormous task. Every puiblished book you've ever read, required a painful amount of editing, fine-tuning, and perfecting. Your book, as annoying as this is to accept, will be no exception. It will mean loooong days of frying your little eyes out in front of a computer screen, but you know what? It'll be so worth it, yo.

5. Chop. But don't chop mindlessly. If you're like me, you have huuuuge word counts that you would like to see slim down a little. Chopping irrelevant (or dare we say it, perhaps even boring and/or confusing?) bits of your work can be healthy, but don't go at it like a lumberjack. THERE ARE GOOD THINGS IN THERE. Think about each sentence and for gosh sakes, keep the cool stuff. No word count is worth chopping gold.

6. Editing is boring. This is why we have coffee. And chocolate. (Seriously, guys. That's been my week.)

7. Remind yourself why the heck you're doing this. I received some great advice from Cait over at Paper Fury in one of her blog posts not to long ago, about keeping a note on your office wall (or whatever kind of wall you prefer...doesn't have to be an office. It applies to all walls, indiscriminately) to remind yourself why you're doing this. Mine says, because you're insane, YOU WRITE BECAUSE YOU WANT THINGS TO BE DIFFERENT AND ON FIRE, YOUNG RESTLESS ONE. BLOW THINGS UP! ...yep. You gotta read it in a battle-cry voice. But hey, make a note like this for editing! Keep your eyes on the finished product! Remind yourself why you're doing this. Keep running, Forrest.

8. Take. Breaks. Seriously...this is why number 2 happens. The English language (or any language really, I know some French so there) just doesn't make sense after so many hours of anguish. Don't drive yourself insane. Some editors use a 4 hour rule: edit 4 hours, break 4 hours.  

9. Don't be overly critical. I know it's so easy to fall into the "my writing is all the bad things" pit, but DON'T. It's not true! Your writing is good. Of course you're going to find tons of little annoying issues and mistakes when you edit-- that's why you edit. IT'S ALL PART OF THE torture FUN! But make sure that you also make mental notes of the good bits, strong points, and things you like in your story. It's just as important, I can't stress that enough.

10. Do something fun, and totally not editing related when you're finished for the day. It can often be really, really hard to pull your head out of the book when you're away from it, but try to. Relax when you're not neck-deep and manuscript. Go eat some chocolate. Do yoga. Do something FUN.

11. Don't try to weasel your way out of editing by pausing to write a blog post about it.....oops.....

What are some of the things you like about editing? What do you reeeeally dislike about it?


k a t e


  1. This sounds a lot like studying to me. In theory, becoming a successful writer sounds like one of those dreams - like becoming a rock star or an actress - but wow the editing part never really occurred to me.

    The Life of Little Me

    1. Yes, definitely a whole lot of work involved...but the reward of finishing and the amazing feeling that follows is sooo worth it. :)

  2. Oh my gosh, this is SO true. I just published my first book (shh, the official release date was supposed to be the 17th, but I clicked a button and things happened). SO MUCH EDITING... I try to write with good quality the first time around so it's not ABSOLUTE crap I have to sift through, but reading your book three times in less than a week just fries your brain. And mine's only ~65k, a 330 page book. Can't imagine if it were 800 stinkin' ages. My GOODNESS.
    Also I want to read your book because you sound like you know your stuff. That's basically my only reason right now. XD

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet words, girl! I'm gonna have to message you about this book of yours, because it sounds awesome sauuuuce!

  3. Ahh, this post is like SO NEEDED RIGHT NOW. I'm literally 2 chapters off finishing edits and I'm basically crying with relief. xD I'm actually about to write a post about my horrors myself, hehe...I hate editing. It is tedious. And draft 2s for me are about rewriting every. single. sentence WHICH TAKES FOREVER. *headdesks into a wall* Ah, but I do like your list. Except for #5 heeh. I AM BAD. But I'm a huge advocate of chopping! I've even been known to chop things that I just couldn't be bothered fixing...but then if nobody noticed the missing scene then I guess it wasn't needed anyway?! x) ANYWAY. I love this post and I'm totally bookmarking it to share on the weekend. :D

    1. I was so happy for you when I saw the tweet about you finishing your edits!!!! OIGBEOIGBSD BEST FEELING EVER, NO? I'm gonna have to go find the post you did on editing. We can lament it's odiousness together. XD Thanks so much for sharing this, Cait!!

  4. Oh my word, that last one is totally me. "I'll write. I'll edit. BUT FIRST LET ME REVAMP MY ENTIRE BLOG." Gah, the life of a writer. Loved this post. Rang so true!


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