You’ve done it.  You’ve completed your novel, and the manuscript is saved on your computer.  It’s a great feeling to finally be done, but real work is just beginning.  That’s right, now you have to take the time to edit and revise your manuscript.  While the writing process can be overwhelming, the editing process can also feel that way.  

Let’s discuss some strategies to help you limit your anxiety regarding editing and rewrites.

Give Yourself Time

Unless you have a hard deadline from a publisher where your manuscript is due in a week, give yourself plenty of time to edit and rewrite.  The last thing you want to do is rush the process.  Rushing will inevitably cause you to skim the material and possibly miss easily fixable grammar and spelling errors.

Editing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Don’t rush the process.  Read each chapter.  Add material where needed and cut things that don’t work or don’t enhance the story or its characters.  I would suggest only working on a few chapters daily for a few hours.  This will keep you focused and give you a clear set of goals for the day.

Speaking of goals…

Break It Down

Most novels have chapters, and those chapters can be divided into manageable sections for editing.  Let’s say your book has 80 chapters, and you want to get the editing done over the next three weeks.  That’s 21 days to work through 80 chapters.  Doing the math, that comes out to about four chapters a day.

Four chapters are much easier to tackle than being overwhelmed by the thought of editing 80.  So, each day, you are tasked with working on the edits and rewrites for just four chapters.  When you’re done, stop.  Give your mind a break and continue with the next four the following day.

This will keep your momentum and creativity fresh as you work through a specific batch of chapters.

Cut and Paste

Editing a complete manuscript can be a daunting and unnerving task.  Thousands of words and hundreds of pages are being shifted around every time you type a new sentence or add a new chapter.  Your eyes can constantly be focused on the work count and page count instead of the content you’re working on.

I suggest starting a new document and then copying and pasting the material to be edited into the new document.  This will be the home of your edited manuscript, so save it with the title and date you started to edit this draft.  Copy and paste the next batch of chapters into this document each day for revision.  At the end, you’ll have a fully revised and edited draft.  

This cuts out the distraction of the final page and word count, allowing you to focus on what matters: the content of your story.

Final Thoughts

Editing is a lengthy process.  Changing how you approach editing can subvert the anxiety and panic that can creep into your mind as you work through your manuscript.  By working on a little at a time in a separate space, you’ll be amazed at how your productivity and creativity thrive.

Happy Editing, and I’ll see you next time!

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