Many writers have a love/hate relationship with editing. My favourite writing quote, and one I refer to often:
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” – Shannon Hale
I love the idea of shovelling your words onto a page and later coming back to craft them into something bigger and more beautiful. The editing process of novel writing can be incredibly daunting, tiring and tedious. But it’s also a magical process. Which is why I wanted to share some of the reasons to love the editing stage of writing a novel.
1. You get to read through your raw ideas/thoughts
I don’t know about you, but my first “edit” is essentially me re-reading what I’ve written and highlighting weak areas/sentences/words. And although it can be disheartening to see the pages fill with more and more bright yellow highlight, it’s also wonderful to read those raw, early ideas. For many writers, the first draft is a slightly messy stream of events, but with all your ideas crammed in. And though some of them may be cut or heavily altered it’s still a great feeling to see how much thought and effort you put into that draft.
2. You have more control
In the first draft, I’d say what you have above all else is freedom. You are writing everything that may or may not end up being relevant, because that’s what a first draft is; getting words on a page. And although nothing really beats the excitement of that freedom, it’s a powerful feeling to be in control. Future drafts and edits give put you in charge of a story, and this time the plot is already out there so you’ll hit slumps and blocks less frequently. In editing, you take control of your words and mould them, shape them, cut them and add to them.
3. You improve as a writer
I’ve spoken recently about ways to improve your craft as a writer, and one of these ways is to edit. Editing forces you to decide what works and what doesn’t, it pushes you to make weak sentences stronger and develop your characters. When you move onto writing other novels going forward, your previous editing will have improved your skill, and will continue to go so as you write and edit, and write and edit.
4. You can’t submit/publish a novel without editing
The hard truth is first drafts will never be published. And you wouldn’t want them to. Whether you’re self publishing or taking the traditional route and submitting to agents your book needs to be edited to its best possible standard. And that’s why editing is so exciting. Because each round of edits brings you closer to the ultimate publishing goal.
5. You get to interact with other writers
Seeking feedback from Critique Partners or Beta Readers is scary, but incredible. It gives you an outside eye for feedback on plot, tension and enjoy-ability alongside the more practical things like grammar and spelling. And through the process you’ll get the chance to connect with other writers, make amazing friends and form a close writing bond that sees you support each other going forward.
6. You strengthen your story
Edits are where you fill in the plot holes, iron out the issues, ensure all loose ends are tied. It’s where you use your hindsight of the ending to drop hints and clues into the earlier chapters. It’s where you use your character’s fate to strengthen their arcs from the very start. And all of this combined is what turns your first draft into a full novel with no mistakes.
7. You’ll be so proud
What better reason to edit than for a huge sense of achievement? Editing takes persistence, patience, time, mental energy…never give up! Keep going and you’ll be so proud of yourself when it’s done. (And so you should be!)
How do you feel about editing? Love it? Hate it? Drop me a comment to let me know your thoughts and feelings.