I belong to a lot of writing groups, and I see a lot of grumbling about editing. People share stuff like this:
I totally understand, but I am the complete opposite. Reverse the order of those two pictures, and you’ll have my writing process. If I didn’t write my stories during NaNoWriMo, they wouldn’t get written. As soon as I start writing my inner voice starts telling me what garbage it is.
“Did you just add a dialogue tag that ends in ly? You’re a hack. An utter hack.”
“You know that this conversation has no relevance to the plot, right?”
“Is this really the best way to demonstrate your character’s growth?”
All of this negative self talk makes it really hard to create something. I love NaNoWriMo because the whole point is just to write as many words as you can, even if it is complete garbage. Then I can tell my inner voice, “Shut up. It adds to the word count,” every time it criticizes me.
My point is, writing is a struggle.
But then comes editing.
OH, HOW I LOVE EDITING.
First of all, most people go back and read their writing and realize how terrible they are. But I’m always so convinced that the writing was terrible right off the bat that it’s actually a relief to go back and read and find the occasional spot that isn’t actually all that bad. Then – and this is my favourite part – I get to go in and make it better. Once I have something to work with, I can prune and trim and add and turn it into something that I am proud of. That negative voice becomes useful – my harshest critic.
I wrote most of Chemistry during NaNoWriMo in 2012. I filled in the gaps and had a complete novel by 2013. I have been editing the damn thing ever since. The ending wasn’t good enough. It went through four different iterations. The characters weren’t developed enough. The plot wasn’t complex enough. The dialogue tags were awful. I sent it to beta readers, took their feedback, improved it, and sent it out again… and again.
I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied with it. I am in the process of trying to finish it off and get it formatted for print but I keep going in and tweaking things.
What frustrates me is knowing that I will publish the thing, open it up, and see something that I want to change.
I guess that’s what second editions are for.
The bright side is, I’m almost done filling in the rough draft for the sequel, History. So at least I’ll have something new to edit.