What I am learning from editing

Chapter 8 editing

I have mentioned that my publishing plan has changed a little.

And lately I have been working on a short story for publication soon.

I had thought that I would get the story out, edited and published and then I could settle into the (long) process of editing my fantasy novel.

It is strange how we perceive how things will go. It did not occur to me that I would need to put as much effort into the editing process for the short as I would the novel. But every word is just as important.

Sadly this was only evident after I read most of the short story to my writing group and the suggestions and points starting flowing quicker and thicker than I expected. Truly I thought it was nearly there. And when I considered their feedback I was.

No matter what we are working on each page deserves the same attention.

I am trying to get more writing out to you. It is important to me as a writer to provide the reader with writing. And the more I have out there the greater my chances of being able to write more and ‘day job’ less. But I may have lost sight of some important points in my eagerness to get the writing out.

I want to produce great writing

I want to be producing writing that you not only enjoy but want to read more, and hunger for more and look out for more. Producing any book that is only mediocre writing, whether a novel or a short story, will not inspire you to read more.

I want to build an audience

This of course links back to the first point. If you are not enjoying what you are reading then you will not buy another book. Again it is because I want to create an immersive reading experience that you will want to fall into as soon as you see I have released another story.

I want to love producing it

I do enjoy writing. I find it as immersive writing a story as I do reading a well written one (even though at that first draft it is not well written). I want to continue that and although I worry about the editing process I love to see how the story tightens and smooths and comes together more coherently during that editing process.

It is not about the money

Well it would be nice if my writing paid the bills so that I could escape into it every day. But I write firstly because I love it not because it could be a way to pay the bills and focusing on publishing only to make money will not make me happy either.

 

As well as learning how to improve my story during the editing phase and even learning more about my characters and their world as I consider things I had not during the drafting phase; I am slowly learning that I can make my stories better, learn more about my processes and as much as I love the drafting phase I am learning the joys of editing.

The most important thing is that any writing I produce should have the same effort applied to all stages, whether short or long or epic. Already I worry about editing the trilogy I have started but perhaps I need to think about just how much better it will make the story and focus on that rather than the time it will take. Writing is a slow business anyway and I would rather take the time and do it properly than rush and produce something none of us are happy with.

What part of the writing process do you rush through? Or want to rush through?

Have you considered a mini writing retreat?

mini retreat

Every year in August my writing friend and I head off for a week of pure writing fun. This will be our third year and we are already planning. The retreat is booked for our preferred dates, leave forms submitted and approved. Goodies we keep forgetting to take are listed (like pillows, extra milk and eggs). It has worked really well both times and we are sure that it will not only be just as good this year but will continue on every year.

We were recently talking about how we wish we could go twice a year but it isn’t possible. Then over the last weekend we had the chance for a mini retreat when my friend’s husband was away on business. And it was as simple as me turning up after ballet classes were finished and staying the weekend.

It was a true retreat for me, given that I didn’t have to worry about pets, kids or the like. I had even left a volunteer at home doing the washing. All I had to do was write (and a little cooking/food preparation).

The key to any retreat, whether self-organised, time with a friend or a professionally organised one is preparation and focus. OK, so that is two things. But I find that once you are organised and ready for the time then the focus follows along easily.

I started the mini retreat with a plan (although rough):

  • write 1000 words a day for my current big project,
  • edit current short story,
  • draft a couple of blog post ideas,
  • spend time planning writing ideas (although this one is a bit of a procrastination tool because if I am honest I have my writing and publishing plan pretty well set).

Retreats need to be away from the pressures of life. I have mentioned that I am living with my parents and I find that even when my daughter is away with her dad and I think I have some time, Mum finds something to talk about or check, or ask or get me to do. Life will be different once I have my own space but it is nothing like working in a space where you only need to write.

A retreat can be a bit like working in a library, with a kettle and fridge handy. You just get on with the work at hand. If you do this with like minded people then you can enjoy it even more. Not everyone wants to write for 12 hours a day on a retreat – some may like a walk at lunch time, or a visit to the shops in the afternoon or movies every night. We like to write for 12 hours a day and so that is what we do.

Some people like to sleep in or go to bed early. We are a bit different there and on our last retreat we found that sometimes one of us wanted to stay up late and the other would get up early. It is a matter of respecting the other person’s (or people’s) needs and being quiet while they sleep, and so they don’t wake you when you want to sleep.

Honestly, I think we jagged it. Not everyone is as lucky as I am with my writing buddy. And in some ways I am sure I get more from the friendship than she does because she is much more driven than I. Without her there typing away I am sure I would get distracted and watch TV or wander out for a walk or a run. It is a bit like my bike class at the gym. Quite often I think I would have given up but with the trainer pushing from the front and the others riding along beside me I have no choice but to go with it. And I am all the better for it at the end. Completing the class proves that I can do it. Sometimes we need that little push by doing something with others that we would not get by working alone. And other than the ideas planning, I achieved everything I wanted to.

How could you find a little writing retreat? Could it be a day in the library? Do you have someone that will keep you going that might like to join you?

Are you confident to change your goals?

DCF 1.0

There are times when we are part way along a path when we realise that it is not where we want to be heading. That a change is needed in what we are doing and where we are going.

It is not a failure to change your mind. Nor is it a failure to decide that this is not the path you want to travel.

When your needs change so should your goals.

I am not advocating that when it all gets too hard you should give up and work on something else. It is a matter of making sure you are working on the right goals. That the actions you take are enjoyable but also carry you along the path toward your long term goals.

My overall life goals or my long term goals have not changed. But how I want to reach this has changed a little in the last couple of weeks.

I have discussed publishing a non-fiction ebook about taking action on writing goals. This project means a lot to me as it was an area I struggled with a lot myself and I was keen to share what I have learnt. But it was not coming together as I thought it would and I have lost confidence in the market. I will continue to post hints and tips that I have learnt through my own practice on the blog and if you would like a follow up please comment on any post, or contact me via the Contact page.

I need to focus on my fiction writing and so I have changed my publishing plan for this year. Instead of the non-fiction I am working on another short story (Science Fiction this time) due out around Easter.

Changing my short term goals ensures I am on the right path to my mountain.

And I want to write what makes me happiest, because I believe that will produce better work that you, as readers, will gain more from.

Do not be afraid to change your goals because you never know what may present itself that you had not thought of before. And it might just be what you need. Are you struggling with your current action plan or goals? Take some time to revisit what you are doing, why you are doing it and whether or not it makes you happy.