So you did it! You wrote, drank coffee, and wrote some more. You have a complete first draft. But now, you’re absolutely exhausted, and the last thing you want to do is write even more.
I think one of the hardest steps for an author to take is following writing the first draft: edits and revisions. It’s hard for a lot of reasons: often, writing blogs suggest putting your work down for a little bit and then looking back at it, but putting away the passion for your writing only to pick it back up after a few weeks is difficult.
It is always better to edit than to think that you are finished. Often at GenZ Publishing, we look at queries and samples of work that have clearly not been edited. It doesn’t take long for us to see that this work hasn’t gone through proper revisions, and that’s never a good sign! It means more work for us, the editors. But, it also signals to us that the author isn’t passionate (or patient) about his or her work, and sometimes the queries don’t get accepted just because of that!
To start the editing portion of the writing process, I recommend not putting away your work. I know that it makes sense to give yourself some space from your writing, to come back to it less biased, but I also think that you lose the motivation that you had during the drafting period.
Instead, what I suggest is send your manuscript out to your close writing community. (Makayla Smith writes about creating that writing community in her GenZ post, “How to Write Diverse Characters for Your Fiction Books” ) Any of us who have been writing awhile have formed a small, but incredibly close group of writing friends, who often are willing to look at your work (and, if they love you, they will ignore all of your typos) and give their honest feedback. Everyone needs great “alpha readers.”
Now you move onto the most important step of editing: editing grammar and spelling. What we call “copy editing.” This won’t be difficult, because it’s not as personal, but it’s still incredibly important! It may be boring and time-consuming, but it shows professionalism and attention to detail.
When you do get responses from friends and family, take a deep breath. Criticism is hard to accept, but it’s just a fact of life for a writer. Understanding that feedback is only meant to make my work better has helped me accept constructive criticism better. And I even appreciate my friends more because they’re honest.
You may be in a grey area now—writers often don’t know where to stop editing and when to start submitting their work to agents or publishing companies. And, I don’t have a good answer for writers as to when that time begins. But, I know that you have to continually reread your work, look critically, and edit bluntly in this period. Being reflective and introspective is necessary: question your work constantly – is the plot strong and without holes? Does the action take place in a logical manner? Is your description strong, and not boring? Will your characters feel real to your readers?
It’s a hard time, the editing process, being so mean to a manuscript you look at so lovingly. But, as you do it, just remember, you are only becoming a better writer. You are one step closer to publication.