Edit, Revise, Repeat

Or: Just when you think the story’s finished…

Writing is hard work, don’t ever doubt it. Despite all the people who’ve said to me, “Oh, you write? That can’t be that hard. I’m thinking about writing a novel. It should only take me a couple weeks.” Yeah…um… reality check.

I write fast. Occasionally I do something called “Word Wars” with some online writing friends, where a timer is set for 20-30 minutes and during that time, you’re only allowed to write or revise. I think I mentioned it in last week’s post. During that time, if I’m writing, I usually manage 1200-1500 words. Occasionally a bit less, occasionally a bit more, depending on what I’m writing. Going at that pace, if I did four rounds of 30 minutes each per day, I could in theory finish the first draft of a novel in about two to three weeks. (Not that I ever manage to sustain that pace for more than a day or two, but we’re being hypothetical here.)

The problem is, my writing isn’t over when I reach “the end.” I tend to write my first drafts, then go back and edit and revise. So for me, the end is just the beginning. Once I reach that point, I have to go back and read through the story. Make sure it all makes sense, watch out for my “pet words” that I overuse, and so on. It also helps to have another set of eyes go over it, though I’m not always able to find someone to do that for me.

Writing isn’t as easy as non-writers sometimes seem to think it is. For me, the first draft is often the easiest part, because I just let the writing flow and whatever comes out, comes out. If it doesn’t make sense or is phrased awkwardly or whatever, I know I can go back after I’ve finished the story and fix it. I know other authors who revise as they write; same concept, just in a different time-frame. The point is, you can’t just write a story and expect it to be published. Writers have to work at making their story the best it can be *before* the publisher lays eyes on it.

And of course, after the story’s accepted (as we all hope it will be!), the publisher will ask the author to make some changes and corrections and so forth. In other words, just because it’s accepted doesn’t mean it’s perfect. And editors at publishing houses do not do all the work for the author. They guide the author through at least some of it.

So yeah, writing’s definitely work. I have one novel that’s now available (Eternal Love) that I put through three rounds of revisions myself before I ever sent it to the publisher, and then, as I recall, it went through two or three more rounds before it was pronounced ready. And that isn’t even counting the line editing!

Writing is work, editing even more so, but it’s all definitely worth it.


2 responses to “Edit, Revise, Repeat

  1. I so agree. I love writing the first–rough–draft. I too just write, knowing I’ll be going back over it again and again.

  2. You’re correct – the first draft is the easy part – sometimes the edits are killer! Oddly enough, I do enjoy them though.

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