‘How do I Edit my Own writing?’ 5 easy steps

editing21

I came across the following article in my weekly Pinterest email updates. I was intrigued by the title… as an author, I’m sure you can understand why I would be.

‘How do I edit my own writing?’ 5 easy steps

After reading the article, I have to admit… I mostly agree. I say ‘mostlyagree’ because I believe there is a 6th step to editing my own writing. So, let’s break it down right here, starting with the 5 listed in the original article. There is a link to the original article at the end of this post. 

Step 1: Take a break – I couldn’t agree more… You have to step away from your work in order to come back and see it with a fresh set of eyes.

“Another reason to take a break is that you need the distance from the work. In a way, you need to forget about the book. On returning to it, you might be surprised to find passages that you don’t remember writing; passages that affect you emotionally as though someone else were the author.”

YES! I never thought this would be true, but it is. I recently  went back and reread my first novel, published in 2012, and it was like reading some of it for the first time. I LOVED being surprised by my own writing.

Step 2: Get organised – As someone who prides herself on being organized, I totally agree with this step. However, I don’t think it only applies to the editing portion of writing. When I’m writing I need an organized workplace so that I can feel free to create and comfortable enough to do the research necessary to complete my daily writing goals. YES… SETTING GOALS IS VERY IMPORTANT, both during the writing process and the editing process.

“Make a schedule for your revision just as you did for writing your novel. Set a goal and stick to it. Think about what other tools might help you with your revision. You’ll need some kind of system to take notes and keep track of things. The system that works best for you depends on you. You might choose to use multicoloured index cards or sticky notes, spreadsheets, a notebook with sections and multicoloured pens, or a physical filing drawer, for example.”

Multicoloured index cards, sticky notes, spreadsheets, a notebook with sections and multicoloured pens… I’m getting excited about organization already. This blogger sounds like she has been reading my mind or watching me through my office window. LOL

“Learning how to write a book is a rigorous exercise in focus and discipline.”

Take note, that is the most important piece of advice/knowledge/wisdom in this section. People quit things that are hard… it’s true! You might be thinking, no I can do this the story is already in my head. I can tell you, getting your story out of your head and onto the paper or computer screen is the easy part – AND STILL PEOPLE QUIT! The hard work comes when the story is written and you have to edit, market, publicise, sell, sell, sell.

Step 3: Develop a plan – I agree with the points of the blogger in this section. However, I feel that developing a plan is part of Step 2: Get Organised! I believe the two sections go hand in hand. However, you should ready both sections within the original article.

Step 4: Make multiple passes – YES! YES! YES! Like I said above, the hard work comes after the story is written. Editing isn’t as simple as reading your story and making sure you’ve used spell check. Do MULTIPLE passes when you edit, looking at different things each time: flow, plot, character development, grammar, punctuation, etc., etc., etc.

 

Step 5: Get feedback – Now, the author of the original article feels that feedback is your final step… and I don’t NOT agree (yes, I know that’s a double negative), but I want to take it one step further and say there are two steps to getting feedback. I will address the second step to getting feedback below, in step 6.

Ask your friends, family, writing groups, reading groups, teacher friends, etc. to read your manuscript. Find anyone you can you might be interested and ask them to read it.

“The value of having others look over your work is that they will spot mistakes or inconsistencies you might miss because you are so immersed in the text you’ve written.”

It doesn’t matter how many times you read your own manuscript… YOU WILL MISS THINGS!

Step 6: HIRE AN EDITOR – Yes, this article is called ‘How do I Edit my Own Writing’ but the best advice I can give you on how to edit your own writing is… DON’T. Yes, you should do everything listing above in steps 1-5, but you should never rely on yourself to be the only editor of your manuscript. As I said above in Step 5… It doesn’t matter how many times you read your own manuscript… YOU WILL MISS THINGS! 

I am not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars on an editor. You don’t need to go to the bookstore, sift through books within your genre, figure out who the most popular editors are and then attempt to contact them. NO!!! But, if you are serious about your novel, put a little time and money into making it the best novel it can be. Go to http://www.upwork.com and hire a freelance editor. Find someone who has experience and good reviews. Get a fresh set of eyes on your manuscript. It doesn’t have to be expensive to get good editing. What is costly, are the bad reviews you will receive for publishing a poorly edited novel. They will lead to pulling the book… rereading… revising…re-editing… again and again. TRUST ME, I KNOW!

Now, my process for steps 5 and 6 for each of my books are as follows:

  • I read, edit, read, edit, read, edit… my own manuscript multiple times.
  • Submit for edits to beta readers (at least 5 beta readers). After each beta reader… I read, edit, read, edit, etc.
  • Submit to a professional editor (3 – 5 rounds of edits)
  • Submit for final review to beta readers (2-3 beta readers)
  • One final read through – Just me.

Finishing your novel can be amazing, but remember editing is not an optional step in the process. It is part of writing, an essential part if you want to be successful. By taking the time to go through all the steps listed above, you save yourself time and heartache later on down the road.

Got any question? Ask below… I’m happy to answer.

Link to the original article: ‘How do I edit my own writing?’ 5 easy steps

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About Nina Soden

Wife, Mommy, Young-Adult Fantasy Author, Artist, Actress, Director... I'm only as old as I feel and I try to see the good in everyone, but some days that's a struggle.
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