Writing

How A Novel Is Edited: A 34 Step Program

Step 1: Sit down at desk. You spent £150 on this desk and assembled it yourself. You bloody well should use it productively.

Step 2: A clean work space is a productive work space. Tidy away clutter and select a scented candle for today’s activities. Meticulously select your writing playlist on iTunes while you’re at it.

Step 3: You’ve forgotten your cup of tea. Make one. Debate for 2 mins whether or not to bring biscuits back with you too.

Step 4: Document your hilarious lack of progress so far on Twitter. #amwriting / #amediting

Step 5: Open up your manuscript. Feel guilty about how long it’s been since you’ve looked at it. It may be a .doc file but you feel compelled to literally blow the dust and cobwebs off it.

Step 6: Tell Twitter this. #amwriting / #amediting

Step 7: This song’s shit. Re-work playlist quickly.

Step 8: Gods, how could you not have noticed how badly your computer folders are organised? All of your plotting material, character worksheets, writing tool kits, important notes, they need to be expertly organised into alphabetical folders of ultimate neat-freak organisationosity! But now is not the time to do this.

Step 9: Nah, do it now.

Step 10: Tell Twitter what you’ve just done. #amwriting / #amediting

Step 11: Okay, you’re finally looking at your manuscript. That font needs changing.

Step 12: Damn that was hard work. Time to refuel with another cup of tea!

Step 13: Right, you’re doing this now. That’s great, all the keyboard tapping you’re doing. Keep that up. Reworking that same paragraph over and over for 20 minutes, perfect.

Step 14: Spend 3 minutes lamenting over your younger self who was actually capable of writing non-stop for hours. It was like a sickness. It was awesome.

Step 15: Give up on that paragraph for now. Check in on Pokemon Go, you’ve earned it.

Step 16: Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to document how you write in an awesome blog post? Do that now, it’s not at all procrastination, it’s basically journalism and that shit’s important.

Step 17: Can you add that to your word count for the day? #WordCountGoals

Step 18: Oooh someone’s retweeted you, better open Twitter and — NO! Stay focused. Get back to your manuscript!

Step 19: This whole scene is horribly written. Like seriously, you should be ashamed. What could have possessed you to write such hideous descriptions. Why do you even call yourself a writer? You bring nothing but dishonour upon your family.

Step 20: This paragraph is just magnificent. Seriously it’s a work of art. Every word has purpose and precise meaning. It’s gloriously crafted and once this superior novel is published, people are going to bow down to you. They’re actually going to have to invent a new type of award to honour you with, none that currently exist are grand enough for your literary achievements.

Step 21: You’ve used the word “lovely” four times in the same paragraph. Should you rework that or can you put that down as a character quirk?

Step 22: Throw the question over to Twitter. #amwriting / #amediting

Step 23: Spend 5 minutes perfecting a glorious bit of purple prose that you’re quite proud of.

Step 24: Delete it; it ain’t working.

Step 25: Sigh a little.

Step 26: Google the word “indignant”. You’ve never been quite sure.

Step 27: You’re getting really good at deleting unnecessary sentences. The down-side to that is your word count is going down. Does that make you look like less of a serious author?

Step 28: Spend 20 minutes agonizing over a paragraph. It’s so unnecessary and you know it. But it’s so pretty.

Step 29: Phone rings. Not now, dammit. Can’t they understand you’re in the zone?!

Step 30: Answer anyway. Yes, you do want to go to Hobbycraft with Sarah.

Step 31: Return home after several hours and procrastinate as you see fit for several further hours.

Step 32: Feel determined to finish just this chapter. But it’s 10:30pm at this point and you have work in the morning.

Step 33: Look at that paragraph one more time.

Step 34: Realize you cannot make this decision tonight. Pray to every God you’ve ever invented that you will manage to tomorrow.

 

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