Facing the Slog of Editing

I’ve fallen off the daily writing activity bandwagon this past week or two, which means that not much of anything is getting finished. I think it can be attributed to a few things. One, I finished my first draft of Wrapped in Verdigris last week. Two, there are big changes going on in the day job department. Three, I need to figure out what my editing process is and how to tease myself into loving it. And four, I stopped logging items in my little Moleskin planner. (Oh and five, my allergies haven’t given me a break until today. Maryland pollen is brutal.)


I learned about the power of daily writing first from The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Morning Pages are how I got back into writing after a 5 year break after college and the real world squashed my hope that someday I could be a published author. I bought numerous 6x9” spiral Mead notebooks and wrote 3+ pages longhand nearly every day, stream of consciousness stuff or reflective or actual snippets and bits of stories that I was working on.

Then I took a course with Margie Lawson who teaches about the power of setting goals that are actually reachable. You can put more things on your list too, but leave those for doing after you’ve completed that first list. It’s the carrot at the end of your stick.

I do best when I’m tracking to a deadline and have a daily or near-daily goal (5 days a week). Recently, my list has grown longer than I should allow it to be, which means it’s time to step back and reflect and record some data. Have I mentioned here yet how much I love spreadsheets? I love tracking daily word counts. But when it comes to editing, I have so very little data and it’s not nearly as easy to measure progress. I could record how much time I spend on editing each day, but that doesn’t speak to how close I am to being finished. I need a way to measure my progress and a deadline or I will just continue to ignore that this needs to be done.

So I’m going to apply some project management techniques to this. Break it down into smaller pieces, and make my best estimate of how long this will take. I will probably split this up into phases:

  • novel level edits (reviewing the goal/motivation/conflict for the protagonists),
  • scene level edits (making sure each scene does something essential), and
  • line edits (grammar, cutting out weak words, etc.).

Saying that I’m going to give myself a week each for these is giving me heart palpitations, but that is just a starting timeframe. I’ll work with that goal in mind for this week and then reassess on the weekend. I will also continue considering how to track progress within each of these three phases, but that may not be something I can do until I have been through this process once.

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