Recently, I wrote a post about timelines as they pertain to my book and their overall importance. This week, the focus is a little more personal.
For the past few weeks, I have been digging into the editing aspect of my project. As expected, editing is hard. Much harder than writing, editing involves looking at all the flaws in one’s work and trying to correct them; making dialogue sound more natural, adding or removing descriptions, shedding unnecessary scenes, rewriting scenes to make them work better in the story, re-organizing or adding events to change the direction of the story. Editing is slow, precise, and involved work and I struggle with it.
It’s not so much feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project, as being unaware of the flaws in the work. Reading through my own work is less engaging than reading through someone else’s work because my mind is familiar with it and connected to it. As a result, the problems that are obvious to others tend to go unnoticed or I misunderstand the full extent of the problem. The reluctance to rewrite, due to my fear of making things worse, also stands in the way, despite knowing that I have to start somewhere. It is all rather daunting.
These are a few issues that I’ve been facing this week as I edit, but I think my real problem is something rather mundane. The problem goes back to when I first started to write my book. I, by nature, am a night owl. When writing my book, I stayed up all hours of the night plugging away; I would sleep into the afternoon and do it all again. My mind likes to create in the evenings, and good ideas tend to after midnight, so staying up late is an easy way to catch those ideas and incorporate them into my work. Because that is the schedule that I used when I started writing the book, it is the one that I stuck to during my project hiatus and when I started editing my work. The problem is I don’t edit well in the dark.
It might seem weird that editing, for me, is a daytime activity, but I think it has something to do with the way creativity works in my brain. The sun is good for daydreaming, but the stars are a source of inspiration. I can harness the restless energy I feel at night and funnel it into my book, using it to increase my word count and productivity, but when it comes to editing, that’s not what I want. I don’t want to get words down; I want to focus on the words I wrote and refining them. I want to be looking for the flaws in the work and correct them. When I try to do this, at night, I am not as efficient. My “night owl” nature begins to work against me because it wants to be creative and free, instead of caught up in the minutiae of the work at hand.
Recently I edited a chapter for a colleague, and I was utterly unable to work on it after sunset. Something in my brain switched off, and I lost all motivation to work on it. I ended up putting off the project for days before returning and finally completing it. When the sun goes down, I lack focus and a sense of space that exists in the daytime that I think is necessary for my more analytical brain. School happens during the day, so it is the time of day that I habitually devote to work, as opposed to evenings which I see as free time. I was able to write my book in the evening because writing is something that I do in my free time and enjoy, whereas editing requires more discipline and focus.
Scheduling is important, especially for your workday. Throughout my project’s timeline, I haven’t been careful about scheduling my time. I keep track of the work I do, but the timing of when the work got done was arbitrary, and until now, that hasn’t been a problem. Now I know that editing at night is not a viable option, and I hope I have the tools to be able to change my habits and improve the end product of my book.
Thank you for your company and support.
Project Status: Editing.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Awhile back, I wrote a blog post about the experience of writing the climax of my book. I hid the post as my blog was relatively new and I didn’t want to overshare early on. By this time, I have established myself as an honest-about-my-process author, so I am opening that post up to the public. Feel free to check it out here.