First Drafts Are Fun, Edits Are Work

It's a common thing to hear writers discussing the editing progress on their books.  Rarely do these writers say, yeah, I'm editing!   Most times I can imagine a grimace.  Let's face it, we love the finished product, but the process of getting our books there takes a lot of work.

First drafts are fun, edits are work.

If you're like me, you really tend to drag your feet procrastinate at this stage.  Anything that can take you from editing is a welcome thing, even if that comes in the form of cleaning the toilet.  But, I stuck to it and finished the first round of hard edits on my thriller, ELEVEN.  (Yeah!! Of course, I still have to enter the changes, and I'm not going to think about how many more rounds there are to

What can help you to push through the editing process?

Make yourself.  Writing is an art form, and like all art forms it takes discipline.  We write because we want to.  No one is making us.

Focus on your goal.  You want a finished product you can be proud of.  You have a date you want to get it off to beta readers or editors by.  You have a date in mind for when you want to publish.

Get an editing partner.  While I don't have personal experience with this, I know that some have benefited greatly.  It's having someone there that is at the same point with their work.  In some ways, I suppose my husband could kind of be my editing partner, not that he writes, but he's there pushing me the entire way.

Set a deadline.  Give yourself a target on the calendar.  When do you want this round of edits finished?

Remember forward momentum is progress.  Sounds straight-forward, right?  But sometimes when we're buried under 500-700 double-spaced pages and we've only edited a couple in a day, it doesn't seem like a lot.  Remind yourself of this:  how did you write the first draft?  No matter how fast you may have it only happened one word at a time.  The same is true with editing. Maybe things are not moving along as fast as you had wanted them to, but if your book is constantly improving, you're on track!

Celebrate your accomplishments along the way.  Share your progress with other writers.  Let them encourage you.

These are a few areas that have helped me push through edits.  What about you?  When you don't feel like editing, what makes you?
Here's an interesting post as well:  9 Editing Tips that Make Your Writing Sparkle  I think it's worth a look.


  1. I like editing. I much prefer having something to react to. Even in my writing, I like to develop the story from what has gone before, rather than make stuff up out of whole cloth. Editing is looking over text that already exists and finding mistakes and fixing them. Of course, it helps that most of my edits tend to be small. The re-edit of my first novel was quite painful, because it was longer and there were so many textual errors to fix. But even there, I was fine with looking for errors in what already existed.

  2. I can relate to this editing post. Editing is hard work, and I prefer the first draft phase. Great pointers here.

  3. I agree that celebrating accomplishments along the way can keep one motivated. I try not to set stringent deadlines because life sometimes intervenes and I am not always to meet my goals. Long-terms goals work better for me than daily ones.

  4. I agree with authorguy. Editing is my favorite part of the process. You've posted some really helpful tips. Setting daily deadlines is one that always keeps me moving forward.

  5. You know what? I LOVE editing! Crazy, right? But seriously, I do. I think it has something to do with the art of words. My first drafts, when I have time to actually write, go very quickly. Once I sit down with my idea, if I didn't have a fulltime day job, I could probably crank out the first draft in a couple weeks.

    But that draft is TRASH!

    And I LOVE going back and taking it sentence by sentence and making it right. I don't know why other than the fact that I love words, and I love crafting them.

    The part I hate about editing, though, is making sure everything's in line. You know - making sure I didn't say my MC was 30 on page 20 but 32 on page 153. Keeping my characters' traits and days of the week consistant. That's what's hard for me. Those little details I have to verify during the edits.

  6. April, I use a calendar to plot out the scenes so I get days of the week straight.

    I'm with you. Once I get about halfway through the draft, it's not fun anymore. It's work. I LOVE editing though. I love to read through and tweak this, overhaul that.

    Ctrl-F is my friend when it comes to those little details.

  7. I love Ctrl+F. LOL. I usually use a calendar to keep track of stuff, but I didn't this time. Actually...I've never used it to actually keep track of stuff, just as a reference. But that's a good idea! I think on my first edit, which is when I kinda do a chapter by chapter outline-ish thing, I'm going to do that. Actually buy a calendar and write down the events that happen each day in my novel. Thanks for the idea!

  8. Editing is work for me. I love writing the first draft. I get to live in a world that I am creating as I go along. When editing, I have to find ways to slaughter the darlings that I loved initially. Sometimes it's easy because they really are unnecessary to the story. Other times it's like pulling teeth. I fuss and argue with myself that this scene really does have problems. The edits that make me laugh are when I come upon something that makes absolutely no sense. This usually happens when I think I wrote something, but left it in my head.

  9. Hey Stephanie, same here about thinking you wrote something you didn't. I usually let my MS sit about a month before coming back to it, so there's that objectivity. And there are times, I'm like what did I mean by that? lol

    And April, what I do is put the day, date if applicable for the story, and time beside the chapter heading until the final pass. I have done it briefly in a calendar too.

    It's great to hear what all of you have to say :)

  10. If one is going to be a successful writer, one must approach it as a job!
    Editing is part of the job description for telling a good story that others want to read.

  11. I feel like I've been writing my current first draft forever, so I'm looking forward to the editing. Of course, once I start editing I'll probably look back on my days of writing the first draft with longing!

  12. True point LV.

    And Scott, bask in your first draft :)


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