Solution Saturday: Editing My Book Is Too Overwhelming


Deciding to write a book is the first of many treacherous steps aspiring novelists take on their journey toward conquering the novel-writing monster. It’s tough. There are always emotional roller coasters along the way. But finishing a book, for real, is worth the exhilaration that comes along with it.

Until you remember you still have to edit it. The whole thing. By yourself.

Editing a first draft is one of few activities writers have to physically sit down and do alone. While other writers can provide support, and some might even offer to read that horrifying first attempt for you, no one can revise it in your place. And with a whole book in front of you to make better, well, you’re probably not feeling as confident as you did when you finished writing it, are you?

It’s going to be okay. We’re here to help. 

Solution 1: Take a break between writing and revising

Writing a book is no small feat: as a writer, you know that better than anyone! When you finally finish your masterpiece, give yourself time to step back and congratulate yourself on your major accomplishment.

You don’t have to start editing the second you finish writing. In fact, you shouldn’t. It’s always better to walk away from a finished draft and come back later with a fresh perspective. If you’re afraid you’ll turn around and never look back, set a date in the near future when you want to go back and start the editing process. 

Solution 2: Edit in smaller pieces 

Let’s say you have a completed, 60,000-word novel staring you in the face when you do sit down to edit. That’s a lot of words to reread and revise, and if you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to get through it all—if you even can—we understand why you’re overwhelmed!

You can’t look at 60,000 words and dive right in: it’s just too much. Instead, break that up into smaller editing projects. Take it one chapter, five pages, 1,000 words at a time instead. You can even block out just one or two hours a day specifically for editing, if that’s what works best for you. Find a way to make editing a daily task without shoving it aside because you can’t do it all at once.

Solution 3: Set a reasonable “done date”

It’s very easy to say you’re “working on revising your book,” but sit down, reread a few pages and move onto something else. To keep yourself on track, it might be a good idea to give yourself a “done date”—the day by which you want to be able to stand up and shout as loud as you can, “I’M DONE!!!!”

Dreams have no time limit: goals do. Turn your dream of writing, editing and maybe even publishing a book into a goal by giving yourself one big deadline and smaller ones along the way, such as, “I want to be halfway done editing by Thanksgiving.” Or something like that.

You wrote a book. You poured your heart and soul and tears and probably a lot of coffee into making it happen. Now comes the hard part—but you’re not alone. We all write and revise. We all somehow figure out how to do it without [completely] losing our minds. You can, too—and if you need support, just leave a comment. We, and your fellow NR readers, are here for you!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

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