My Toddler Tantrum with Editing

Editing and rewriting is difficult. I am pulling apart my first draft bit by bit and finding it lacking in so many ways. I am changing major aspects of the approach I thought would work but clearly does not and cutting characters I like because they don’t move the plot forward. 

It’s excruciating. So much so that I’ve stopped doing it. 

For some reason this process feels so negative. The elation of having a complete first draft is now ruined by the admission that it is a rubbish attempt at a novel and that I need to go back to the beginning and, basically, start again. I feel like a child on the precipice of tantrum. I’m digging in my heels with my bottom lip firmly stuck out.

Me & Editing: 'I don't like it. I don't want to. I'm too tired.'

Me & Editing: ‘I don’t like it. I don’t want to. I’m too tired.’

Because of this attitude I’m reminded of Kristen Lamb’s post ‘Irrefutable Law of Success #1 – No Whining. It might have social media as it’s main topic but the theme is still the same – every writer has to get through the editing and rewriting stage, so if you don’t like it “suck it up”. Maybe this author stuff isn’t for you! It’s terrifying to think I’ve got this far and might not get any further.

But on one level, I agree with Kristen. I should stop whining and get on with it. On the other hand, sometimes we all need a little downtime and the space to acknowledge that we’re struggling. I might be throwing a fit right now because I can’t face the gruelling task of editing my novel, but once I’ve stamped my foot and ‘hmph-ed’ enough I’ll stand back and realise that it isn’t really helping my dream to become a published author. As a result, I’ll have to act – and that means facing the task of editing and rewriting.

In order to curb my dislike (read: fear) of editing and rewriting I’ll have to invent strategies to make it more enjoyable. Things like self-imposed time limits, reward systems and competitive games with myself. I’m creative enough to adapt to the hard work necessary and find ways of making it easier on myself instead of forcing my way to the laptop and furrowing my brow in frustration every time I mean to edit my work. 

Because, yes, all writers have to edit their work, and this often involves some element of rewriting. It Is a long, challenging process and it is meant to test us and make us question the quality of our work. If it didn’t then what would be the point? 

Unfortunately, right now, I’m still in the whiny, toddler stage of tantrum and so it means I’m not getting anything worthwhile done. So, like any good parent*, I’m going to distract the child in me away from the point of contention and come back to the task later with a brand new strategy that’s going to trick me into editing and enjoying it!

Stay tuned to find out if this will work.

*As I am not actually a parent to anyone, I have no idea if this is a good strategy for parenting. (Let’s go with this comment being artistic license!)

Want to know how I’m getting on with my ‘adult’ approach to editing as I try and curb the child in me? Join me on Twitter @Cat_Lumb or sign up to the blog in the sidebar.

4 responses to “My Toddler Tantrum with Editing

  1. I absolutely don’t understand people who find the most pleasure in novel writing during the editing process. I feel your pain. Sometimes if we take a moment away from our work and get a little breathing space, when we return to it, our eyes and mind will be fresh again. I completely understand the need to edit and we should all do it but I think too many people are too wrapped around the idea of editing. The become obsessed. I think (especially with my poet friends) people rewrite and rewrite way too much. With computer word processors, we have the luxury of easily deleting and moving things around but sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t all benefit from the wonder of just getting the words out undoctored, a la typewriter, handwriting, etc.

    Good luck with edits!

    • Thanks (sorry I missed this comment before when you posted it). I’m taking some time away from it and hoping it will help.
      Thanks for stopping by

  2. I have also completely stopped editing my novel, so I know what you mean.

    “But on one level, I agree with Kristen. I should stop whining and get on with it. On the other hand, sometimes we all need a little downtime and the space to acknowledge that we’re struggling.”

    ~ All children have tantrums because they’re experiencing a “big feeling”, and that’s true of all humans.

    If you wanted to talk through any gaps you need to fill or just to try and have a game “how much can we edit in the next ten mins?” let me know on twitter 🙂

    • That’s a very generous offer and one I may take you up on before the end of the month.
      I’m glad that you point out the reasoning behind tantrums because it makes much more sense as to why I’m feeling this way – it’s a whole new experience that I am unsure of, so it is understandable that it’s shaken me up.
      Many thanks for your comment (I won’t publish the one WordPress messed up for you)!
      Take care, Cat x

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