Time has a way of getting away from us. One of the biggest complaints from every writer is:
“I don’t have time to write!”
Or they can’t find the time or whatever other variation you can think of. The point is writers lack time when it comes to trying to build a writing career when they’re already juggling a full-time job, or school, or being a parent, or anything else going on in their life.
And if we have a hard time finding the time for writing… what about editing?
I don’t know about you, but editing is my least favorite part of the writing process. I write the first draft of a novel, set it aside for a while to take a break, and work on another one in the meantime. When the first draft of that second novel is done, it’s time to go back to the first novel, right? No.
I end up writing the first draft of the third novel with every intention of editing the other two novels.
But, you know, new ideas come out of nowhere. Writing 2,000 words a day sounds more productive than saying that I edited five pages. Also, writing is just easier than editing. There’s less thinking involved as you just tell yourself the story.
It doesn’t have to make sense, but it does to you because… well, you’re writing it. Why can’t everyone else just read your mind and be happy with the first draft, huh?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Editing is a much longer process than writing. You can’t really spout out gibberish and expect it to come together. Plus, you have to read carefully to make sure you don’t miss any crucial mistakes. Editing one page may take double the time it took to write that page.
When it comes to writing, sometimes you just have to carry a notebook and write a sentence or two down on your lunch break at work or at the mall while your friend is trying on various outfits. You can’t exactly bring your manuscript to the mall and sit on the floor in the dressing room and mark up your papers, though.
So, how do you find the time to edit?
You make it.
Easier said than done, I know, but hear me out.
If you’ve made it as far as completing the first draft of a novel, you must be pretty serious about writing, right? You must want to publish it somewhere, right? Whether you hunt for an agent, self-publish it, or post it on Wattpad or your blog, you’re going to do something with that manuscript.
And if you’re that serious about your novel, you will be able to make the time to edit the crap out of it.
Pick a dedicated time of day or a certain block of time during the day.
Do you have an hour to spare on most days? Or even a half hour? Take advantage of that. Put your phone on silent and get off the Internet. Just bring out the red pen and work during that amount of time. It may seem short, but it’ll chip away at that manuscript.
Or, if you’re usually not doing anything after dinner, edit at that time. After you wash those dishes, sit at the kitchen table and edit until your favorite night time TV show comes on. This may also help if it’s around the same time each night so that your mind will be prepared when the editing comes.
You don’t have to edit every day.
While you will certainly get more done faster if you edit seven days a week, I don’t recommend that. However, if you have the time and want to, edit six days a week at the most. Give yourself at least one day of rest.
Pick three of four days of the week to get editing done. It’ll pace you through your novel, you won’t burn out, and you won’t be rushing the edits.
Edit by chapter, not by time.
Everyone edits differently and everyone goes at their own pace. Depending on how long your chapters are (or whatever your writing style is), pledge to edit one chapter a day. Some days it may take you 20 minutes, other days it may take an hour.
On those short days, try to edit an extra chapter, if time allows.
Assign yourself editing tasks each day.
If you’re crunched for time, just look for certain things about your novel you know you need to fix. Did you flip back and forth between tenses? Give a quick read and change to present words to past words. Is the pace too fast or too slow? Mark those spots and brainstorm ideas on how to fix it.
There are a lot of methods to finding the time to edit your novel. If it’s something you absolutely need to get done, you’ll find the time easily.
Just one thing to remember:
Editing is not a race.
It takes some authors years to complete their novels. If you’ve been working a certain manuscript for a while, don’t fret.
Just think of all the improvements you’ve made on it since you first started.
What’s your typical editing schedule? Let me know in the comments below!