• Britt Leigh

Growing Pains of the Editing Process

In December of 2018, I completed the first draft of my novel, Otherville. I remember the overwhelming feeling of euphoria as I typed the words The End (for dramatic effect) into my document. It was well after midnight, but I waltzed into the bedroom I shared with my fiancé and announced that I had finally finished the novel. I cried. Eric helped me celebrate. My 18-month adventure had come to a bittersweet end.



That was 14 months ago.


So, why hasn’t anything happened with it yet?


First of all, the publishing process doesn’t work quite that fast (unless you’re Stephen King). But that’s an article for another time. Today is about editing.


After spending 18 months on the project, I decided to set it down for a few weeks before going back through to start the editing process. After my incubation period, I did a read through and jotted down a bunch of notes to consider when I went back through for the revisions.


I was brutal on myself. I wrote curse words in the margins condemning the pieces I felt were truly awful. I angrily crossed out entire sections and scolded myself for not including the information to obvious plot holes.


Every time I went to revise the book, I saw the angry messages I wrote to myself and allowed my doubt to seep in.


  • This is a shit book.

  • It will never get published.

  • Why did you think you could do this?

  • Forget it. You might as well give up.

  • Maybe writing isn’t actually your thing.

I gave up three times. I hid the book in a drawer and decided I didn’t want to look at it ever again.


It wasn’t until I had an enlightening conversation with my coach that I realized I was giving up on myself before I really gave myself a chance. So, I pulled it back out of my desk drawer and drug myself to the completion of that revision process.


It was brutal. Why? Because every page of my edits reminded me of those doubts and made me question my writing abilities all over again.


I believe in strong constructive criticism. I crave it. I believe it’s necessary and important for self-growth, but that’s not what I was doing for myself. I had taken constructive criticism and turned it into destructive criticism, and it made me doubt everything I loved about writing.


I’m now going through my second round of revisions and I’m loving the process more this time around. Here’s what’s changed:


  • I see the edits I’m making as signs of my growth as a writer. Yes, some of the stuff I wrote 2.5 years ago sounds like crap now. That’s great! It means my writing skills have gotten better and I have an opportunity to highlight those skills in these revisions.

  • Plot holes? That’s exciting! I have an opportunity to flex my creativity and either add a new scene or re-craft an old one.

  • When an entire chapter no longer fits, that’s okay. It wasn’t wasted time or a stupid addition. It helped bring my book to where it is now. Perhaps I can use it elsewhere – like promotion for the novel or in my blog.

  • I see the edits I’m making as a sign of my growth as a writer. This one deserves a second mention because it’s an important one. The editing and revising process is a huge undertaking, but it’s an opportunity to flex your muscles and make your writing even better. My book is already worlds better than it was 14 months ago and there are no limits to its improvement potential.

The editing and revision process is messy. It can be painful, challenging and downright frustrating. But they can also be rewarding.


If you are going through the editing process, be kind to yourself. Constructive criticism should inspire you to keep creating and encourage you to get better.


Happy editing!


For the love of adventure,


Britt

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