I don’t get to write like this anymore. I used to attack it like I did most things: slowly, and with no real direction. That’s always fine, too, right? I mean, that’s why we edit.
Editing has three major forms: developmental, substantive, and copy. Developmental editing is for larger ideas, substantive editing is usually paragraph level, and copyediting is sometimes called line-editing, because that’s what you do—go line by line.
I am wrapping up the final copyedit of CSM’s first title, and it’s been a roller coaster of fun and pain, but I had to take a break this week due to occurrences outside of my control. Last night, while climbing out of the shame spiral that I was falling through, I realized that there are some good and worthwhile reasons why one would want to take a break from editing.
1. You keep “tuning out.”
This happens when you are getting particularly tired, but you try to keep on going. Instead, you find yourself reading a few lines and not knowing what the words are saying. Have you ever found yourself driving down the street, only to look up and see that you missed two exits because you were spacing out?
It happens when editing, and it’s usually a lot safer to space out while editing, but it’s a waste of time nonetheless.
2. You have started to hate the characters/setting/author/your own life.
Editing is as much about caring as it is about trimming. When I used to bartend, we all had the exact same recipes that we used for our drinks. We all tested our pours, making sure that we poured the exact same amount, too. There were times in my career when people would say that my drinks tasted better than someone else’s, even though we made them PRECISELY the same way.
The reason? (without proof, citation, or hyperlink) I always tried to make the drinks with love. Yes, I was a lot hippier back then. But still. It’s no stranger than other beliefs that I won’t make fun of here.
3. You don’t have enough distance.
This happens mostly when you are editing your own stuff. A good practice: if you find yourself being your own editor, put the manuscript away for as long as possible. Now, don’t forget that you’re writing it, but you should put it down so you can’t remember how hard you’ve been working on it. That attachment to your writing can sometimes inhibit your ability to cut entire chapters if they don’t work.
4. Real life won’t go away.
Sometimes you can’t shake the world, and sometimes the world invades. I was editing while sitting outside the other day when a bee swarm invaded. I ran inside, leaving the mss on my table outside, forcing me to take a break while the bees settled in to my backyard.
Thankfully, Larry the beekeeper showed up, took most of the bees away, and I grabbed my manuscript and continued working inside.
37 pages left! Then it goes off to design! More info soon…
How do you handle editing? Is it easier or harder to manage someone else’s writing?