Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Battle Between the Head and the Heart

Last night I sat on the couch and read Ian Fleming's Casino Royale and had to look up at the t.v. every so often when my daughter wanted me to watch a certain scene from Ice Age 2: The Meltdown.

I should have been downstairs in my office editing my novel.

For some reason, I'm having a terrible time diving into those edits. I didn't start out that way, though. Remember the phrase "I'm having a blast editing my novel"? Wonder where that enthusiasm went.

Part of me is just plain tired from working all day (and writing and editing all day, since that is my dayjob) and then coming home and forcing myself to go work at the computer. It's hard, but I'm usually pretty successful at making the time. Last night, though, I just wanted to veg on the couch.

But it wasn't just the need to relax for an evening with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate - it was a deep reluctance to open the Word file and start slicing and dicing. I think I'm still close to the book to want to ruthlessly cut and chop the words that don't belong. But I've got to get out of that mode because I really want to get the novel edited, polished, and finished so I can start on the next one.

So, oh wise bloggers, do you have any words of wisdom?


  1. Sounds like you need to rest up. Can you veg on the couch and edit by hand? That's what I do all the time, but if I'm not in the mood, I'm not in the mood (and editing's my job).

    "Hi", by the way. Keep seeing you on the other blogs, so thought I'd nip on over. Hope you don't mind.

  2. I wish I had a good analogy to share about this, but I'm the worst about sticking a finished ms in the drawer for a few months before I can face it. :D How about if I just say a prayer for you?

  3. Well, here are my "words of wisdom," for what they're worth. Everything I read about editing says not to jump right into it -- to put the book away for a short while to get some distance from it and let it cool off.
    In the meantime, could you maybe start dabbling with the next book (in a playful, nonthreatening way)? Jotting down some scene ideas? Doing some character charts? I bet once you start doing that, editing the old manuscript will start to look very appealing! It's always easier to edit than come up with new stuff.
    But the most important thing is to cut yourself some slack. Don't beat yourself up. We have in-laws to do that for us! :)

  4. I wish I had wisdom. It can be such torture. The only thing I can say is make yourself do it for 30 minutes minimum before you do anything. Try to do it after work, or before the sun goes down. Do it before you settle into a chair. Do it during commercials.

    For me the reward is getting down. That is the only motivation and wisdom I have.

  5. Let it sit until you're excited again. Or more excited, lol. Sometimes it helps me to print out a hard copy and do it by hand, too.

  6. I say take a break from it if you're not feelin' it. That's what I would do.

    I've been a break for a couple of weeks! I really need to get back to writing...

  7. Melissa,

    You're such a dear friend, if I had words of wisdom to share, you know that I would. I'm not wise, but I can relate to having to write and edit for the "day" job and then going home and wanting (or not wanting) to do it some more.

    Remember that completing your novel in its first draft was a HUGE accomplishment. Don't stop patting yourself on the back over that. How many people do you know have said, "Yeah, I could write a book someday?" Well, you did!

    It may be time to set it aside for awhile, find another creative passion (writing or otherwise) and then come back to it with fresh eyes. You can't edit a blank page and you don't have blank pages anymore. Those pages will be waiting for you when you come back to them.

    Now get out there and do something fun, whatever sounds fun to you.

  8. I think I'm in agreement with everyone else: you deserve to veg after completing your manuscript! I can guarantee that the time spent away from the manuscript will enable you to view it with fresher eyes and a more positive outlook--it's not slicing and dicing--think of it as GARNISHING the dish. A pinch of this, a bit of stirring , allowing it to set for a while and then returning to continue the preparation.

  9. No words of wisdom from me right now, Melissa, as I'm exactly the same with my novella.

    Big bummer!


  10. I always have to take at least 1-2 months (preferably 3 if I can) from the time I finish a book to the time I start my edit. I usually write one ms, set it aside and dive into another. It generally takes me about 3-4 months to write a first draft, so once I get the 2nd ms done, I'm ready to go back and edit the first. After being immersed in the plot and characters of the 2nd ms, I get the emotional distance I need from the first and am ready to see it with new eyes.

  11. I find the same thing when I edit - veering wildly between loving it and hating it. I think taking time to step back and let the story percolate is important :-)

  12. Wait two months before you start the edit, after finishing. Then you have enough distance to read it as though someone else had written it.

    If you push the edits too soon "just to send it out", it won't be in good enough shape to make a hit with agents or editors.

    Let it rest for a few months before the edits -- especially between the first and second drafts. After the second draft, subesequent drafts can rest for days, not weeks -- but you still need to get enough distance to meet it with fresh eyes and a clear heart.


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