Why You Need Patience While Editing Your Manuscript

After the thrill of National Novel Writing Month, you’re either exhausted and never want to write again, or you likely want to dive right into editing. I wanted to jump right in.

However, I took the advice to wait at least one month to start editing. Ideally, you’ll wait for no longer than six months to edit so that you aren’t becoming too distanced from your characters. Here I am, eight months later, and I’m finally sitting down to start editing.

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A lot has happened in the last few months. Job changes, acquiring a dog, and buying a home. Things came in the way of me and my writing. I lost the motivation to invest my heart into my manuscript when my heart was so busy investing in other things. Sure, the advice is to keep writing every day even when you don’t feel like it. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

I had grand plans to start editing. It stayed on my to-do list for weeks. Then I saw that Camp NaNoWriMo was starting in July. If you haven’t heard of Camp NaNoWriMo, it’s different than November’s NaNoWriMo.

You can write a novel for the camp, but you can have a goal of any writing project. You might have a goal of 50,000 words, or maybe you just want to write 500 words a day on a collection of short stories. It doesn’t have to be fiction, and it doesn’t have to be a novel.

I decided that I would use the option to track time instead of words. The goal is to turn my rough draft into a readable second draft. It’s the right time. I’m excited, and I’m about to go back home to North Dakota on vacation, which means for two weeks I’ll have time where I’m not doing anything, and I’ll just be able to devote time to editing.

Editing is hard work. I started reading over my manuscript and realized that it’s a massive dumpster fire, and I’m wondering if it is salvageable. I’m going to try anyway, though I’m sure it will take much longer to finish than anticipated.

I’m making milestones to keep me going after July is over. I’ve started interviewing editors, and I’ll talk about that process more in my upcoming posts. I’ve also started looking at cover designers. I’m trying to stay local in the PNW so I can meet in person with the people I’m working with. So far I have two excellent candidates, and I’m hoping we will work well together.

The idea of picking out an editor and cover designer so soon is that I want to have a deadline for myself to finish my editing. It keeps me on task instead of procrastinating and allows me to have a stopping point on editing instead of over-editing myself into the ground.

Right now the plan is to finish the second draft in July, get beta readers in August, and spend the second part of August and the first part of September editing the third draft to give to my editor. Then from there, I’m not sure how long it will take, but I’ll have another person on my team at that point to make sure we are getting things done.

Despite my best-laid plans, things generally go awry somewhere. It’s then that I need to exercise patience and realize that good writing takes time. It’s better to take the time to get it right than to publish something unpolished and risk poor reviews over something that could have been fixed if you’d taken the time.

I’m simultaneously researching for my NaNo novel for 2017. Sure, I have editing to do, but I want to utilize the motivation of November’s NaNoWriMo to keep on the track of regular content creation so I can increase my chances of success as an author.

I don’t expect to be famous, and I doubt I’ll end up as an NYT Bestseller. I can dream about it, but I can also be realistic and acknowledge that being prolific is my best possible chance of building readership and having a modest amount of success.

So, here’s to the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo. If you’re out there writing or editing this month, I wish you motivation and inspiration. It’s also helpful to have a bit of compassion for yourself. This writing thing is hard work.

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