Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group: Editing Hell

Thank God Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group is here.  Hopefully with this post, I'll vanquish some of my writer demons.  This past month I had so much to be insecure about, I don't know where to start.  Between work and family obligations, I had little time to write.  And then there's the blogging part, which, frankly, I'm incredibly burnt out.  It's all about maintaining balance in our everyday lives and sometimes when I have hoards of to-dos on your list that I attempt too much and accomplish little.  In the case of my writing, I've spent a good portion of my time--when I had it--writing a little, but mostly...editing.  

I know editing is a crucial part of writing, but truthfully I struggle with it.  Does it ever end?  Sometimes I obsess over words, sentences, scenes, chapters, and plots so much I want to... 

And then just when I finish editing/revising a chapter, act or even a novel, a sort of peace and tranquility burgeons within.  Everything is right in my universe, and I am calm and ready to forge ahead. 

Of course, less than 24 hours later, I'm back at square one--stuck in editing hell, double-checking my edits, doubting my revisions and creating new ideas to add to the plot.  WTF?  Can someone prescribe me some good drugs for my sick inclination towards OCD writing, cuz right now....I think I'm going nucking futs!  

I feel better now.  Do any of you suffer from this type of relentless editing like it's never-ending.  Do you have any advice?  Tricks?  After you edit, do you have another person reedit your work or do you rely solely on your critique partner.  Does it ever end?


Mina B.

21 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Mina, I was in a mode of endless tweaking with my WIP. I kept rearranging dialogue, adding more detail, taking it out ... over and over.

I ended it by hitting SEND to my agent last night. I hadn't been planning to send it this soon -- when I could've gotten a few more weeks of agonizing out of it -- but I need to focus on other projects, so I did the deed.

Am I insecure about it? Always. Hitting send is scary -- whether it's too a beta, an agent, or an editor.

Danielle B. said...

My OCD stems from my constant ramblings in my head. I can't get the voices to shut off. "You should put this in your book... you should add that" I can't get it to stop. Now editing... I don't even know what that is unless I'm constantly editing cause I can't seem to be happy with anything I write.
My prescription to you... take a vacay!

michelle said...

I had to burst out laughing at the "nucking futs" comment... dunno when last I heard it!
And don't you feel better after that rant?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd edit forever if I let myself. At some point it does end. Or we force it to end!

mshatch said...

I have to constantly tell my doubting self to shut up and let my other self work. But sometimes it's hard - especially when there isn't nearly enough time for it all.

S. L. Hennessy said...

God yes - editing is the WORST part of writing. I'd rather write three novels from scratch than edit one. I so feel your pain. I suggest ice cream and tequila to numb the pain :)

P.S. LOVING the Buffy scene.

M.J. Fifield said...

I do the exact same thing. Exact same thing. I just ended a seemingly never ending editing cycle. The manuscript has gone to the copy editor and after that, I will force myself to just fix the typos. Probably...

DonnaGalanti said...

Oh boy do I feel your pain! In re-writes now based on agent feedback for middle grade and just starting edits for a sequel. Yes, it never ends!

Taking a break is good, giving to critique partner with your issues in mind, and handing off to a dev. editor if you use one. I also try attacking the MS in concentrated areas so it doesnt seem to big - and then checking off each list. 1. character arcs checked across the book. check. 2. Echo words searched and replaced for. Check. 3. Adverbs searched and replaced for. Check. 4. End of paras checked for "resonance" in words. Check. etc. etc. etc. Otherwise this whole damn process is mind blowing -nucking futz is right!

Did you see Nathan Bransford's LOL gif post on the life of an author this week. hysterical and true!
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/08/the-publishing-process-in-gif-form.html

And here's his post on revision fatigue:
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/09/how-to-deal-with-revision-fatigue.html

Allison said...

Sometimes you can edit too much, I think. It's tricky finding that line. That's why I like a fresh set of eyes to look at my manuscript.

Allison (Geek Banter)

Jeannette said...

Any work can go on indefinitely. This is the part of creating that can drive you crazy if you don't reign it in!

I am the same way. It takes me no time at all to write a story, but an insane amount of time to edit it. Your GIF = me. I get it.

Hang tight, and just hit SEND (to paraphrase another comment). Good luck!

Elise Fallson said...

I'm in editing hell too. I'll reach the end of my edits only to get this idea about changing the whole beginning of the ms and of course little changes in the beginning will cause ripples through out the book and at some point it all has to make sense. AHAHAHAHAH! I wish I could just leave it alone, but I can't. I think when we get to the point where the changes we are making no longer make things better, only different, then it's time to stop. Good luck with your edits!!

Medeia Sharif said...

Editing feels like forever. I do three rounds of it and make myself stop.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

It's very hard to know when to stop with the tweaking and editing stuff but when you are getting heartily sick of the thing is a good time to let it go!!! I never edit until the I have finished the first draft - at least I mostly dont!!! I try not to even read the previous days work but plunge straight in. Of course it means you have to keep going day after day to stay in the story, but I find it works best klike that for me. If not I too start suffering from Obsessive complulsive editing Disorder... I am following your blog with interest... Good luck.

Gwen Gardner said...

We all go through editing hell. The best thing to do is just set it aside for a couple of months if you can. But let a couple of CP's go over it for you in the meantime. Tell them your concerns and let them check it out. You'll come back to the WIP with new eyes. Not sure if drugs will work, but try a nice glass of wine. It'll loosen you up and override your OCD!

Cynthia said...

Hey Mina- Saying hello from IWSG...You're not alone with the editing angst. I myself really dreaded the editing process for my recent MS. Something I did that helped make the experience more efficient was that instead of starting at the beginning of my MS each time I began a new edit, I would start in the middle or the end of the story instead. That way, I avoided getting over-focusing on only the beginning of the story. Good luck with everything!

Cynthia said...

What I meant to say was...That way, I avoided getting over-focused on only the beginning...

Gwen Gardner said...

Hey Mina, you mentioned you'd like to help out on my blog tour. Just wondering if you'd like a guest post or interview in October between the 17 - 31? I couldn't find your email, so if you could email me at ladygwen@centurylink.net if you're interested. Thanks Mina:)

Mina Lobo said...

I know what you mean, girl. I'm feeling a bit insecure about a book I'd been querying to agents. I think, if I'd been offered representation, I'd have taken any editing advice and acted on them and would feel more serene about the thing till it sold and the editor chimed in. Then, after two professionals had done their thing (after several other pairs of eyes had already checked it out) I think I'd feel pretty good about it being "done." As it is, I have this uneasy feeling that something's missing...maybe that, and the fact that it's not sold, is a sign. Hmmm...
Some Dark Romantic

Michael Pierce said...

My advise is great will never be perfect. I've found myself changing a word one day just to change it back the next. I could edit forever, but I hit a point where I have to accept that I'm changing things but not necessarily making them better anymore.

Mark Murata said...

When I was at Worldcon, one panelist said she enjoys editing. She cut forty thousand words from her novel, and she enjoyed it.

Tonja said...

You are not alone in hell. What you said is exactly how I feel when I'm editing. I get a little writing high and think I got it perfect - and it never is.

I recently put my semi-edited WIPs aside and started something new, something huge - maybe I won't have to edit for 3 years. :)

B vitamins help.