And you should!
Finishing a book is huge. Seeing an idea through thousands and thousands of word is worthy of a fancy celebration. So you grin like an idiot, text your friends announcing your success and you feel extremely ready to send it out to that big, fancy publisher of your dream.
But wait, a friend points out awkwardly,
You’ve finished the first draft. You still have to edit it before you send it out, right? – The friend says.
And this is when reality comes crashing down on you. EDITING! You suddenly realize that your Attending-Lit-Fests-as-a-revered-panellist dreams will have to wait. Editing is in your way. You completely forgot about it, right? You begin to panic. Writing the damn book took you months, and now you have to edit it too? I mean, editing your own work? All by yourself?
I know darling, I know. This sucks.
Editing your own book it the toughest part of writing it.
If writing your book is like creating a super hero the world badly needs (even if only in your own opinion –don’t worry we’ve all been there), then editing it is like playing the super villain who takes it all away.
Writing a book makes you feel empowered, full of possibilities and oh-so-talented. Editing it makes you feel incapable, cruel and just plain sad.
Writing is creating something amazing. Editing is downright evil.
Writing a book is a blessing.
Editing it, my friend, is a bitch.
Google, and expert online tips like ‘Bring the Damn Word Count Down!’, ‘Get Rid Of that Character’, ‘What’s This Chapter Even Doing Here?’ will butcher your spirit.
You will procrastinate the whole editing thing saying oh, isn’t this an editor’s job, knowing perfectly well that you will have to do it yourself – not once, but atleast a few times – before you send it out to a real editor. Sometimes you tell yourself that your work doesn’t even need editing, it’s perfect. You will also say ‘I’m a writer not an editor, pfftt’ and other similar silly things.
When you finally exhaust all your excuses to not go anywhere near editing, you get to it. And then you cry. Is this what I wrote? – You ask yourself.
You also find editing your own work absolutely undoable. You know you have to chop off a lot of things because – flow, and relevance and continuity – but you obviously can’t just delete an entire 350 word paragraph just because it is of no real importance. I mean, just read it! It’s so funny and well written and deep and profound – you plead to your keyboard. You can almost visualize this entire paragraph tattooed on a fan-girl’s/guy’s shoulder in type-writer font, because of its sheer superior quality that has strong potential to change someone’s damn life. AMIRITE? Nope, you tell your keyboard. No deleting.
You move on to the next chapter.
The same story repeats at every page. You know you have to make it crisp and keep it interesting – but editing out bits of your own book is like killing your beloved, loyal puppies. Ugh. You can’t do it, you decide and quit.
You come back in a day or two, partly because the emotional weight of the finished-yet-unfinished book is too much to carry around, and partly because you want to just get it over with. No emotions – you instruct yourself. Be ruthless. The first chapter you edit, you feel unbelievably guilty. Also, you want to change the entire plot of this book because clearly –this isn’t as great as you thought, right?
At chapter 5, you feel worthless.
Somewhere around chapter 11 or 12, you have kind of come to peace with all the deleting and re-writing and the self-loath.
But by chapter 17, dear half-author, you’re A-Okay.
You’re chill. You’re even calling it your First Draft now, as opposed to My Super Amazing Book That’s Going to Rock the World. You’re making great progress here. You’ve conquered your fear, and that’s all about it. Bravo!
Keep editing. The worst is almost over (like, five more chapters to go, right? WHAT? There are more than 5 chapters to go? Buddy, you really need to get the damn word count down. No pressure).
Keep writing, everyone.