The dreadful editing process, dun dun dun….

Editing is such a dreaded word in the writing world. The bell of the ball is the actual writing. It’s fun, creative, and you feel like you’re creating something wonderful from nothing other than your own imagination. The red-headed step child then is the edits. This is where you “kill your darlings,” slash that prose that just sounded like music to your ears, and correct all those grammatical mistakes we made in the fervor of the process.

One way to muddle through it is to keep one think in mind, “Write for you but edit for them.” Write till you feel like you’ve gotten every detail you want on paper, make sure every character is fully developed and every plot line explained and resolved. Then you walk away. Give it a beat; a day, a week, a month, whatever you need to get some distance from the work. When you feel ready to return to it with fresh eyes, start slashing it to bits. How do you do these sweeping cuts without losing everything that your novel is and means to you? Cut out what is unnecessary for everyone else.

We, as the author, need to see every detail but readers are smarter than most authors give them credit for. They can fill in the blanks. They don’t need to every last detail spoon fed to them via your laptop. The writers job is to tell the story, set a mood, give the novel feeling, realism and a variety of characters who seem very much real and alive to the reader. You may need to know the backstory, what they had for dinner, where the main character parked his car or the name of the high school they attended, but more times than not, your readers don’t need to wade through the details to get to the actual story.

Here are some hard truths; with some very rare exceptions, your 200,000 word suspense masterpiece will not sell. You will not get an agent with something they cannot sell. Again, there are always exceptions, but I’m talking in broad strokes here. What publishers want right now are concise novels. Thrillers that are fast paced and to the point, and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat and doesn’t slow down; even if you write Women’s or Literary fiction there are still limitations. Fantasy and Sci-Fi may give you a bit more wiggle room for world building but those numbers are getting smaller for debut novelists. If you don’t keep your word count within a reasonable range, you’ll continue to get passed over.

It may sound hard but you can do it! Focus on what it’s about and with every line you re-read think to yourself “If this is my first time reading this book, is that something I NEED to know?” I have personally cut thousands of words from my novel this way. It’s not fun and it sure as hell ain’t pretty but it’s something we have to learn to do in order to create clean, crisp, and fabulous novels that flow well for our readers. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about.

So I say again, “Write for you but edit for them.”


Put your butt in a chair and write.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” ~Stephen King

About a month ago I read and article that changed the way I write. For the life of me I cannot find it now, but if I come across it at a later date I’ll totally post it. It was about being productive in your writing despite the distractions. Everything I had read up till this point made such a big deal about how to avoid life’s distractions so you can sit in a nice quiet room and write to your heart’s content. unfortunately for most of us that isn’t an option. Which is where I ran into a major pitfall in my writing life. I kept trying to find the time for that perfect quite moment, when the kids were in school or somewhere else. NO television, radio, or internet. Just me and my laptop churning out the genius writing that I knew I was capable of, and guess what? I didn’t seriously write for over a year.

I have ample excuses at my disposal. I have five children. Yes I said five, girls to be exact. Go ahead and take a moment to laugh at me. Are you done? Good, now lets move on. We are a military family that moves every few years; could be anywhere from one year to three years but we are always uprooting ourselves and transplanting to somewhere new. My eight year old daughter has Autism. Which makes the moves much more complicated. She has in-home therapy, and requires a great deal more supervision than most eight year olds. I was so focused on ‘finding the time to write’ that I was missing another fabulous option; I needed to learn how to work around the distractions.

In the article the author saw a friend’s husband, another writer, typing away on his laptop while having a full conversation with them while the kids ran around the house. It was actually easier than I thought, once I got into the right mindset. I was editing my book, revising my synopsis, and brainstorming my elevator pitch while the kids were eating lunch, doing their homework, or even while I sat with one in my lap and they napped. It was like finding time that I never knew existed. The actual creation of the work, the idea driving bulk writing still needs a bit more quiet to happen but I can manage it during nap time, after bedtime, or any 20 minutes I can carve out for myself while the kiddos are playing nicely amongst themselves.

My point is that the excuses aren’t doing you any favors no matter how valid they may be. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Bottom line. It will take some getting use to but after a little practice, and a fair share of patiences, you’ll be able to utilize time that you thought was impossible.

Stephen King’s book On Writing has some amazing advice.

“Write a lot. I’ve saved the most important tip for last. To become a better writer you probably – and not so surprisingly – need to write more. Many of the best in different fields – Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods – have gone beyond normal limits of practise. And so they reap extraordinary results.But what do you do when you don’t feel like writing? Waiting for inspiration can become a long wait. One good way to get around this is to find an effective solution to reduce procrastination. You may have to try a few before you find one that works for you. Another way is well, just to do it. And if you just get going your emotions change a lot of the time and any initial resistance becomes fun and enthusiasm instead.”

So even when you don’t feel like writing, write. If it’s garbage then toss it out. Getting anything down on paper will help you get into the habit of writing. Taking yourself seriously is important, and your work is important, so start treating yourself like a professional and before you know it you will be one.