Editing, editing and more editing. For the next two weeks my writing partner and I are taking a break from writing to do some edits. When we started the project we agreed it was best not to edit while we wrote, but rather to pound out content and then pause at major milestones to fix what we did. The idea was that in keeping editing confined to certain periods we could concentrate on the story without getting bogged down with trying to achieve perfection in a first draft. Well, we have officially reached our first milestone (first pinch-point yay!) and decided it was the perfect time to review what we had, correct inconsistencies and do a first-past edit. Great right? Sure. Unless your me.
I’m excited to remind myself where we started and how far we’ve come in the project. But I’m also a little nervous. Ok, more than a little. I may throw up. Usually when I write, I think everything that hits the page is genius…until I stop. Then the minute I close my laptop or lift my pen off the paper I lose all confidence in my own work. But, my desire to be good and appreciated doesn’t go away so there is a real possibility for a spiral into the depths-of-despair that I will ever be good. (Never been there? The walls are painted a lovely shade of plum-crazy.) So, the thought of going back to review what I have is agonizing. (I could get the same feeling by asking someone to kick me in the stomach hard three times.)
Usually I can muster up enough bravery to prevent the sick, sky is falling, feeling. But it just dawned on me that I will go through this editing process, and right at the end of it I’ll get the feedback on my other novel (Riveted). Double whammy; six kicks to the stomach.
So what is a slightly nauseous, completely neurotic person to do? I’ve made a plan. (Of course I have. I plan for everything: Zombies, tsunami, economic collapse. No, it is not unreasonable…just neurotically pragmatic. Now leave me alone, I’m busy counting my emergency supplies again.) So anyway my plan is to make myself feel good and creative enough that I can handle the stomach-kicking editing process. Each day I’m going to write something fun; something that doesn’t have a deadline or a grand goal. It might be a chapter from one of the seven novels on my “to be written one day” list. Or it might be a poem. It might be practical, or something I never use again, but I’m going to write, and it’s going to be brilliant. Then I’m going to store all that “I’m a genius” emotion up and tell myself, “It’s ok if what you’re editing sucks, because look how awesome this other project is.” Kind of like distracting a small child with a new toy, or me with something shiny.
I spend a lot of time in my head (an exhausting place), so it is a wonderful gift that I’m easily distracted. Each of us gets distracted differently. Some of us are distracted by beauty, or ideas. Others by conversations, or bright objects. The next time you’re distracted (look a butterfly!) ask yourself why? What is it about the situation or thing that distracted you? You have just found inspiration. For me it is usually people. I find people endlessly fascinating, so in my writing there are usually a lot of people. Find what distracts you and begin to write about it. Spend a half hour exploring (on paper) your interest in the shiny, the unexpected, the odd. And while your there if you get distracted by a story idea, start writing.