I’ve been editing the first three-quarters of finished Dreamstate II content over the past few days. I’ve only got a couple pages left, but it’s late, and I’m starting to miss things, so I think I might save it for tomorrow morning when I wake up. I find sitting in bed and knocking over a few rogue paragraphs with a cup of tea rather comforting—I’m not sure why, I hate writing first thing in the morning.
Anyways, I’m doing a very general plot edit right now, where I find large swaths of text that make me angry, and then I draw all over it with red pen. Most of these notes are instructions to future Trevor on what exactly I need to do to fix the problems at hand. A side note, I always edit things printed out—I can’t do it on the computer, I need that red pen in hand to be anywhere near useful. Back to my original story; I’m not really dealing with the grammatical errors and typos right now, I can do that later. If I fix them now, and then I change things up, I’ll just have to fix them all over again. I was doing all of this, as I mentioned in my last post, because I wanted to show a semi-acceptable version to my girlfriend. What I’ve discovered, though, is that I’m really getting a lot out of the editing process myself.
There were a lot of things that have just been bothering me about what I’ve written. They mostly revolve around semi-complex character relationships and not being boring. I have some areas that are just filler junk—if I wipe those out, and replace them with useful content, the whole world becomes a bit more exciting and alive. Boring/useless bits murder books.
The process, though, is letting my brain relax a little bit. I’ve been keeping track of all the moments that I think I need to go back and fix for the duration of the time that I’ve been writing. Now that these ideas are down in red ink, I can leave them be. Plot lines that have been bothering me for months are finally getting their resolutions—and in the process, they move along much more smoothly. They aren’t clunky and awkward anymore; everything makes a lot more sense. I’ve never really edited anything that I’ve written before I was done—not like this, at least. I’ve made isolated tweaks, but never really went back to smooth everything out. I like the result and I like the way that it makes me feel calm about bothersome things. It makes me feel like I don’t need to worry about the quality of the book nearly as much, and that the content is really solid. When I say I don’t have to worry about the quality, I mean that I don’t have to worry because it’s good, not because I don’t care; just to clarify.
As a final side note: my girlfriend mentioned that I should talk about how much going to the gym helps me edit. It’s true, I like to edit in the morning, but by the afternoon all I want to do is write. But, for whatever reason, a good hour or two of exercise really helps calm my brain and puts it in the mood to pick through a bajillion words to find things I’ve done wrong. Maybe it just makes me too tired to be creative, but whatever the reason, working out is a good way (for me) to get ready to edit. Give it a shot if you ever find yourself dreading an intense session of editing. Throw some weights around and you might just find your Zen editing calm.