Kill your Manuscript Softly, not Brutally

Because of DC’s Snowzilla, I was locked in the apartment for 4 days, so of course I’ve been editing. Not nearly as much as I thought I would, however.

I’m on my second round of edits for my latest MS. During the first round of edits, I focused more on sentence structure, removing excess words, that sort of thing. Now in this round, I’m worrying about setting and description, and making sure that scenes can be imagined by my reader.

And Jesus, it’s a lot of work.

It’s one thing to sit down and write a 267-page MS, single-spaced; it’s another thing to edit those 267 pages without losing your mind.

Initially, my plan was to finish round 2 edits by the end of January, and I began the second week of the month. Today is January 28th, I’m 3 days from the end of the month, and I’m on chapter 35/50. I had been planning on editing 4 chapters per day, which would have gotten me to the end of the month and round 2.

But that’s insanity.

I’m realizing (once again), that editing cannot and should not be rushed. Hastiness makes weariness. I’m noticing that trying to trudge through 4 chapters per day is far too much for me to do when I’m working full-time (as a technical writer, so I’m writing all day as it is), and studying computer programming (which I have no prior experience in), and as I’m trying to learn the violin (I have had pretty much no exposure to music, ever, in my life, except for that ugly white flutophone in 5th grade that I didn’t bother paying attention to because I thought music class was a waste of my time), that I’m rushing through everything trying to hit that 4-chapter goal.

In light of all this, I’ve decided that focusing on 2 chapters per day is a far better use of my time and attention span at this point, and will prevent me from rushing and missing things, or just plain ignoring because I tell myself well, I’ll have a round 3 edit, so I’ll maybe go over it then. Because round 3 has its own goals, and each round should be its own focus.

My edit lesson of the week: Don’t rush your edits. It’s better to go through it slowly, passionately, than push through with brute force and kill your darling in the wrong ways. Kill softly, not brutally, and you’ll have a better manuscript.

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