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The Writing Life: It’s Editing Time

29 March, 2010

If there’s one writing related word which strikes fear into my heart every time I hear it, it’s ‘revision’. And yet, it’s an inescapable part of writing, be it a novel or a short story, so it’s something that I’ve realised I’m going to have to come to terms with. So much so, that I’ve decided to actually pay for the privilege.

Let me tell you something about my writing style: first drafts are easy. In most cases, I can whip out a first draft of 70-90,ooo words in a couple of months. No problem. But then it’s editing time and that’s where I fall down. I have at least half a dozen first drafts of novels, languishing on my computer hard drive because I can’t summon the will to edit them.

This is where the money comes in. I came to the decision that having so many finished first drafts but ultimately unfinished novels really should tell me something about where my writing career is headed if things don’t change – nowhere. I started thinking about what I could do to change things and remembered Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course. I thought about it. I checked my bank balance. I thought about it some more, remembering how helpful Lisle’s numerous articles have been for me in the past. Then I took the plunge.

I had, in all honesty, more-or-less done a full edit of the novel I’m working on but I still felt there were problems with the world-building and character motivations. Not only that, but I wasn’t sure how I’d edited it. I need desperately to learn a revision method which I can use on all my novels, not just this one. A method which I can complete quickly and efficiently, without agonising over it for five times longer than it took me to complete the first draft. A method, in short, that a successfully – and repeatedly – published writer might use.

I’ve never made it a secret that I want to be a published novelist one day. I want my stories to be out there in the world, reaching as many readers as possible. So, signing up to this course has been my way of putting my money where my mouth is.

Will the course be beneficial to me in the end? I don’t know and I won’t know for several months yet. Still, even with the huge workload I’ve just dumped on myself, it feels a lot better to know that I’m doing something, anything, to improve my chances of doing this for the rest of my life without driving myself insane in the process.

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