If you follow me on twitter (@leahputz_) you may know that it's editing time again. This will be my fourth round of edits with The Last Empath of Doctsland- though it is the first edit with the publisher. The three edits I've done previously were this year, meaning I have read this book three times now in the past few months. It gets old, it gets tedious, and it gets real boring, real fast. But it's a very necessary evil if you want to have a polished book! So, how do I get through it? I've compiled a short list of things I do to make the editing process a bit more bearable
Take Breaks. This is definitely the rule that helps me the most. In between edits, I take long breaks where I read other books or even work on new projects. Typically these breaks are several weeks long, however between my last two rounds there have been a few months. This clears my mind and allows me to approach the next edit with a fresh set of eyes.
Get a BetaReader (or two, or three!). Betareaders will read your story and provide feedback (what they liked, what they didn't like, what they were missing, etc). There's only so many things you can change going over your novel yourself again and again. At some point, other people need to read it! Some of the best rewrites I've done have come from betareader feedback. I suggest finding betareaders that you don't know- having your mom or significant other read your story sounds great in theory but they may not be able to provide constructive unbiased feedback. I had three betareaders for The Last Empath of Doctsland- one from Fiverr, a close friend of mine, and one of my Twitter mutuals. All three of these people provided different, and valuable, feedback that allowed me to look at my novel through an outside lense and pushed me to better it in ways that wouldn't have occurred to me otherwise.
Spend Time With Your Characters. Sometimes if I'm feeling stuck I will do some character exercises to help round out the characters edits. I've found some great character building exercise worksheets online that are both fun to fill out and helpful! Approaching an edit with a better understanding of your characters can help you really bring them to life.
Listen to Music. This one may not work for everyone, but I find listening to a playlist tailored to my story can help keep the inspiration and motivation up during both writing and editing. You can make a playlist on Spotify (or whatever your music streaming service of choice is) to convey the feelings and the trajectory of your story. Put this on shuffle- or organize the songs in a preferred order, your choice- and allow it to inspire you.
Remember Why You're Doing This. It's hard seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when you're editing- especially if you don't have an agent or a publisher yet. It's easy to feel like it may be pointless. Whenever I felt like I was going to get into one of those spirals, I would try to focus on why I started writing in the first place. I wanted to write a book, I wanted to tell the type of story that I would want to read. If I want to distribute it and allow others to read it, I want to make sure they are able to access the absolute best version of my story. The only way to access that version is to edit. As an Art History degree holder, I always compare it to sculpture. By writing the story I've carved the shaped out of the rock. But what if Michelangelo just stopped there and never sanded and polished the David? Editing is the writer's sand and polish- it allows us to bring forth our masterpiece.