Yay! You’ve finished your first draft – congratulations! Now, are you ready for the editing process? Don’t be scared. Yes, editing is a totally different beast and it can get long and lonely, but following the advice below will help you keep your spirits high and motivation even higher.
Make it FUN
Editing can be a long process with lots of moving parts. I know my editing list includes things like: fix character voice, add more details and descriptions, and totally change the ending. It’s a multiple pass system where I’ll be focusing on different issues on different days. Editing is not always fun so you have to make it fun by using writing rituals that light you up. I like to light a candle, turn on my book’s playlist, and pull a tarot card before each editing session. Figure out 1-3 things that will make you smile before opening your document or grabbing your notebook.
Another thing that helps me keep the editing fun is mini goals and rewards. I like to set weekly goals and bigger mini goals of finishing either things on my list or a percentage of the book and then I reward myself. For weekly goals, I’ll reward myself with a full day off and for bigger goals I’ll buy a new eBook, take time to read a whole magazine and drink a cup of coffee, or even just relax with a movie. Whatever makes you happy will be a good reward.
Find your people
Editing, and writing in general, can be a lonely process – where you spend hours, days, weeks, months (not at one time hopefully) sitting by yourself in a room with your notebook or computer working away so it’s good to have some people that understand what you’re going through. Writer’s groups, people online, real life friends and family. Make sure you’re taking breaks within your writing schedule to stay connected to the real humans in your life, even if they are online friends. Cultivate those relationships, share in their wins and aggravations too so it’s not a one-way street.
You can also use social media and your online support group for accountability. Post on your Instagram your weekly or daily goals, or post a picture before your writing session and again afterwards. Not only does this keep you on track, but it’s fun – and shares your behind the scenes with potential readers of your book.
Editing is messy even if cutting and pasting happens digitally (for the most part) it’s still messy so make sure you have one place for keeping all of your notes. It can be somewhere on your laptop or phone or a battered old spiral notebook, but make sure you choose one for each project. You can always change it up on the next book but if you have too many places to look for character name changes, ideas, and plot twists you’ll lose them.
Having one place always helps if you want to blog about your project. Blogging about your book really helps get those readers interested in the characters, the backstory, the why you decided to write this particular story, and about you as a writer so when you launch that book they are ready to jump and buy it on day one. Even if you don’t want to share, keeping a journal of what you did each day gives you a boost of happiness and keeps you motivated. Seeing progress helps on those days when motivation is nowhere to be found.
When the blahs settle in and you’re feeling less than ready to sit down and work, grab your favorite Tarot deck and ask it for help. Ask why you might be feeling stuck or what your main character wants you to know at this moment. You can even ask it for advice on a sticky area or something that’s just not working.
I also like to keep my character’s cards front and center when I’m working so if I do get stuck I can journal a conversation with them and ask them for help. Our characters know more than they’re letting on so if they aren’t doing what we want, ask them why – they might unlock a whole lot of stuff that you can use in this draft.
What do you do when you are feeling less than motivated during the long editing process? I’d love to know below.