Having finished the first legitimate draft of my book, I’ve been spending a lot of time revising and editing. At times, editing can feel like a major drag, especially after pouring so much heart and soul into a piece. It isn’t always fun, but man, is it necessary. That being said, here are three things to keep in mind while editing.
There is No Perfect First Draft
Writers spend a lot of time crafting their stories and deserve to feel proud of their work. An author’s story is his mind-child. But, much like real parents, sometimes it’s easy to slip into a defensive mindset when it comes to critiquing said child. I’ve found myself in this situation more than once with my own stories. It’s important to remember that there is no perfect first draft. With a some edits, a piece can (and probably will) get better.
Consider a Cooling Period
It’s also tempting to plow straight through to edits once a draft is completed (another editing misstep I’ve been guilty of). Sometimes tackling edits right away can be useful, but I’ve found a lot of times I need a cooling off period where I can step away from my work until the initial buzz has worn off. That way it’s easier to be objective about what might need expansion or cutting. Objectivity is key.
Editing is an Opportunity
Editing can hurt, especially when a writer realizes something they love dearly–a scene, a character, a phrase–just doesn’t fit. But editing doesn’t have to be the enemy. It’s an opportunity to make the work better. There is beauty in the art of subtraction. It’s peels back the outer layers of the story and forces the writer to confront the message she is trying to convey to the audience. It brings us closer to the very heart of the story, and that is what writing is all about.