The Trials and Tribulations of Waiting to Edit

This is what I look like whenever I realize I need to edit something:


… But you know what’s even worse than that? When I try to follow that oh-so-popular rule of waiting to edit after I’ve finished a first draft…


It’s been less than a week since I finished writing the first draft of my current novel, Dreamcatcher, and already I’m dying to get the red pen out.

I swear I’m about to have a mental breakdown.

What do you think about waiting so long between drafts? Is it a good thing — because it allows you to better separate yourself from your work — or do you think it would be better to start right away so you know that all of your ideas are still fresh in your head? Let me know in the comments!


12 thoughts on “The Trials and Tribulations of Waiting to Edit

  1. I don’t know about editing, to be honest…. I’ve never actually finished a whole novel before. But! I’m going to amend that! I found this “system” if you will, for writing a novel in 9 weeks, so I’m going to try that after Figment Daily Themes is over. I’ll post a blog on it right now, actually.

    I think that the first few edits shouldn’t have too much time in between, because you don’t want to lose your vision of where you want the plots to go. If the book is still fresh in your mind from a previous edit, the process might be easier. But, I would still wait at least a week or two – maybe have a few trusted friends/family members get out their red pens during that time. Give yourself time for things to gel in your mind and realize that, “hey, that’s not as bad as I thought it was a week ago when I was sleep-deprived and high on caffeinated drinks!”


    • They say you should take one to two months off between each draft to allow yourself to establish distance from your work, because if you’re looking at it as the writer, the creator of it, you’ll be gentler when revising, which isn’t exactly a good thing — you need to be brutal… and two months from now, I’ll be out of school and graduated, so I should have more time to edit without it conflicting with my schoolwork.

      But yeah… it’s been kind of difficult, so far. I got so focused on writing it that it’s hard to focus on my other projects, now.


  2. If you do wait to starting editing, keep notes on your ideas as they pop in your head (as I’m sure you probably already do) so you don’t forget them when you do get back to the editing.


  3. Much as I think the two-month rule is a good rule of thumb, I don’t think it’s necessarily right for everyone in all circumstances. I think you do need to take that amount of space between at least some of your drafts, but I’m not sure it has to be between the first and second. If you’ve got some major edits planned (e.g. “I’m going to cut that character, add that plotline, change that theme,” etc.), then I vote you go for it while you’ve got the energy and drive to do so.

    That said, if the kind of editing you’d be doing is just line edits and scene shaping…then yes, I think it would behoove you to get some distance from it. In the meantime, distract yourself by starting another project! Are you intending to do Script Frenzy this year? If so, this could be a great time to start planning/sketching/outlining/brainstorming for that. 🙂


    • Yeah, I’m changing a lot of the plotline surrounding one of the main characters, who’s currently just kind of there on the sidelines — I need to flesh him out more — so I feel like I should be working on it right now… but at the same time, other than that, I’m not planning on doing much to the novel outside of line edits. So it’s like a mixture. Aaand I’m currently in the middle of a draft of another novel.

      See my confusion? 😛

      No Screnzy for me this year — my eighteenth birthday lands right in the middle of the month and I don’t really want to do the full 100 pages. But I should probably really get back to editing that other story, sooo. Yeah, haha. Are you doing Script Frenzy this year, Ari?


  4. I think you should go ahead and start to edit 🙂 You need to have a certain amount of ideas for editing in your mind. (plus, if you ever feel like you WANT to edit, then you have to edit before it wears off and you don’t edit for a whole month *coughcough*ME*coughcough*)
    Btubs: Tatiana’s been trying to email you: we’ve hit a dead end in the hazing process where one of the hints isn’t up, so…please respond to Tati’s email 😛


    • Speaking of not editing for a whole month… I’ve really got to get back to my, you know, OTHER project that’s kind of MORE PERTINENT to edit right now, lol. I think I’m going to finish my current draft of that one, and then switch my focus over to Dreamcatcher after that. (And now that I’ve figured all of that out: GET BACK TO WORK, TERESA!! THAT NOVEL IS NOT GOING TO REVISE ITSELF!!!)


      • Haha, true. Maybe you can edit a chapter of your “other project” and then let yourself edit a few pages of Dreamcatcher 🙂
        Sorryyyyyyy, I’m being lazy this month XP I’m going to finish that scene tonight, and then work on the next chapter. (ooooooh, woeful editing…why are thee so woeful…..)


          • XP When I was writing Wake Me Up and The Bane at the same time, I kept switching points of view because The Bane was written in 3rd person and Wake Me Up was written in 1st person, so that’s something I’m still experiencing in edits XP
            Haha, I’m doing that scene tonight 😛 Before/after I talk to my cousin at 8:30 (it’ll only take about 30 minutes, she has to vent to me about her school life; and from 6 to 6:30 is dinner and 6:30 to 8 ish I’m altar serving, so….XP) I don’t care how long I stay up, I’ve only got 8 days left to edit the rest of this novel XP I’m doing this scene and chapter 10 tonight, and tomorrow I’m going to do my homework and another chapter. (my edits don’t take as long as usual this time around because it’s just adding scenes and typing up my round one edits) You will definitely be in my mind as my drill sergeant, don’t worry 😛


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