The Editing Diaries–What are we so scared of?

Welcome to my series, The Editing Diaries!

In a nutshell, I’m editing my story LASER and bringing you guys along for the ride. I want you to see how my process for editing novels works (and maybe I’ll figure out my process with you). So, buckle your seatbelts, we’re going on a trip!

~~~~~~~~~~

Let me ask you a question.

When it comes to editing, why do we dread it? Why do we complain and groan about it? Why do we procrastinate until we feel guilty and then make ourselves work on it?

What are we so afraid of? Why is editing almost universally hated by authors one and all?

I’ve actually posted about this before. “Before” being before I started editing LASER. And I gave advice on how to lock your inner editor in a metaphorical closet.

But this is not going to be a repeat of that post. I’ve already posted that, so a repeat would be pointless.

Also, I have not had a lot of trouble with my inner editor. We’ve been getting along pretty well. Though, now that I think about it, I have been a little stressed about getting things right, but that’s probably more from my own insecurity than from Lydia (my inner editor).

I mean, I just came out of NaNoWriMo 2015 a winner, but with a book I have very little desire to edit. So, I’m still re-finding my confidence in writing.

But this is not the point. Or is it?

Our stories are never going to come out perfect on the first try. In fact, we are probably going to spend more time editing than we are drafting that first draft. I’ve been editing LASER for almost a year. It only took me four months to write the first draft. (I’m leaving out the time it took me to type the story up which included a few minor edits.)

So, if we are going to spend most of our time editing a story, then shouldn’t we learn to enjoy the process?

What are we so afraid of?

Why do we psych ourselves to be all stressed but we really know what we are doing and we turn out good edits?

Why do I psych myself to be all stressed even though I really know what I’m doing and I turn out good edits?

I submit that this is because of the bad reputation that editing gets.

I tried to look on my Pinterest for something inspiring (to put as my desktop picture) about editing and how it can be fun. A lot of the writing/editing quotes I’ve pinned are not about fun writing/editing. They are about how hard it is or they are those one memes with some hot male actor saying “You should be writing”.

I wonder when writing became a chore. Before I got my first laptop, I amused myself with reading and writing. Words were what I played with. And I am very thankful that I did meet other writers online to support me and for me to do the same for them but… why do we consider writing and editing hard?

Why am I not having fun?

With writing, if you are not having fun, there’s little point in doing it. It’s not something you go to college to do and get a job and get paid for it all neatly and everything. In fact, getting paid for it is not even guaranteed. But I’m not doing this for the money or the fame or anything like that. I’m doing this because I’m a storyteller and I want to tell stories and if I don’t have a writing project, it makes me a little batty.

So, again, why am I not having fun? Especially if writing is something that makes me happy and I want to be doing it?

What is so bad about editing?

Is the problem that I’m comparing myself to other writers? Other people draft and edit fast. Am I not as dedicated as they? I try to write or edit every day but I’m not perfectly focused. I procrastinate.

Am I burnt out? Have I pushed myself for too long and I need a break?

Am I just impatient? I’ve been editing LASER for nearly a year now. It seems like it’s time to be wrapping things up, but I’m still working out big bugs.

Am I scared that I’m running out of time? I’m 24. I’m not getting any younger. I still live with my parents. I have no regular income or marriage prospects. I want writing to be my career, but… I’m no where close to that.

Am I freaking out for no reason?

Am I scared of disappointing people if I don’t write?

Am I just putting too much pressure on myself?

Really, what is so bad about editing?

So, to sum up this rambling and unusual post, my goal is to find happiness in editing. I want editing to be something I look forward to doing everyday.

And I think that, in order to do this, editing has to be about storytelling. It can’t be about fixing or improving things. It can’t be because I feel obligated to work on it.

It has to be about me telling a story that I like.

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15 thoughts on “The Editing Diaries–What are we so scared of?

  1. Great post! My NaNo first draft has been collecting dust these past couple months. But I have to say, reading your posts has been giving me some encouragement! I’ve decided to edit it when school gets out, and I don’t think I’d have the courage to look back at that mess of words without you!

  2. Okay, so I was literally /just/ about to start editing my NaNo novel I wrote last year when I read this post. This was soooo. helpful. I was, as you said “psyching myself to be stressed”, when I really should be excited! I love this story. I want to tell this story and have it beautiful and read-worthy– so why am I treating editing like it’s a bad thing?
    Thank you for this wonderful encouragement. 🙂

  3. HUUUUUUGS.

    This is such a…a real post, Katie. Why do we get so stressed out and scared about editing? Writing is supposed to be fun. It takes dedication, yes, and sometimes things aren’t going so well and things aren’t working out the way we hoped, but we should still be able to enjoy the process as a whole.

    I wish I had a nice neat answer to give you, but I don’t. This has been me for the past year and then some, with some (wonderful) moments of exception.

    I guess that as forgetful people, we have to go back every so often and remind ourselves why. Why we started this in the first place. I think there’s a quote somewhere on Pinterest about that. 😉 And we also have to take some time to work through our fears and remind ourselves that fearfulness is no way to write and it’s certainly no way to live.

    But on the other hand, this is something I’ve been learning lately: Writing is not me. I am not my writing. Even if some day I stop writing stories, I haven’t lost my purpose. Purpose goes beyond the hobby we love more than anything–it goes beyond the things we associate with our identity. Our purpose is tied to God’s plan, and is, very simply, to love God and love others. To live in such a way that we bring Him glory with all we do. And writing is not the only way to do that. We haven’t failed or lost our purpose if we don’t produce a perfect story. That pressure is self-inflicted (or peer pressure, in a weird sense).

    Anyway. Soliloquy over. Thanks for sharing such an honest look at something that plagues a lot of us.

  4. Omg I love this post and I totally agree with what you’re saying. Editing IS painful for me. Suuuper painful. Although I did figure out the reasons (for me personally, anyway) because I put a LOT of pressure on myself for the second draft. And for the first draft I just have fun and go wild. But the 2nd draft??! Gah. I need to sort out plot holes and get things consistent and just do ALL THIS STUFF. So editing feels really intense. And also I have no excuse not to let other people read it after it’s edited. XD HOW TERRIBLE IS THAT??! But it’s a big reason I procrastinate editing. 😛
    bUT YEAH I WANT WRITING TO BE MY CAREER TOO. And I do love it and I don’t want to sit here hating editing. A more positive attitude would be a good idea, but gah…so much pressure on those edits. I WANNA WORK ON THIS, THOUGH. Very motivating post here, Katie. 😉

    • We shall work on it together! *gives you editing cake and war dragon* DEATH OR STORY!!!
      (I’m happy that this has motivated and encouraged so many. I was just trying to write a blog post and write about my own editing troubles. XD )

  5. Oh my gosh, I just had this train of though like the day before yesterday. Not just editing, but even writing the first draft. Sometimes working on my WIP feels like a chore, and I just keep wondering—why? WHY? I used to write purely for the fun of it, and my writing was very therapeutic (weird word to spell, heh) and now sometimes it’s like it’s just another responsibility—another thing I have to do because otherwise I get stressed out. (Like cleaning my room, for example. That isn’t fun, but if it gets too messy, it adds to my stress. I have to write everyday or, like you said, I go kinda batty.)

    I think what I have to do, is remember why I’m writing. Why I used to find it fun. Why it matters to me.

  6. Somehow, I completely missed this post… I’m glad you mentioned it in your latest post because this was wonderful to read! A lot of these questions swirl around in my head, too. I really really love what you said at the end: editing has to be about storytelling.

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