Monday, January 9, 2012

Am I the Only One?

I'm doing terrible at posting here, aren't I? Well, I'm hoping that will change soon. Like I said last post, I want to blog here at least once a week. So look forward to that, will you?

Here's where I am in my writing process: I have the big scary NaNo book's first draft done (duh), and I have beta notes back from my beta reader. Basically, I'm going to have to do lots and lots of edits, probably a rewrite. I knew this was coming. And yet, I just can't motivate myself to just do it. It seems so ominous, editing. It's like a big scary world--a maze, that I could just get lost in.

Writing first drafts is pretty dang easy, I'd say. You just have to write whatever you want. Nothing has to be perfect, and you can't really do anything wrong. But edits and rewrites are hard. And that sucks. And maybe I'm just lazy or something, but I just don't want to do it. I wish I could just write perfect first drafts, but that's never gonna happen, obviously, so need to edit sometime if I want this dream to be a reality.

I don't even really feel like writing anything new. I have a few cool ideas for new projects, but I really, really want to polish up that NaNo book before I start anything new. And yet, I don't. Maybe I could do both at once?

So, writers out there, what do you do when the first draft is all done and you have to go into edits? Do you freak out as much as I do? Maybe I'm the only loser out there who doesn't want to do it. But then again, I've never really done it in the first place to know if I really hate it or not. Sure, I've done edit work for other books, but those aren't mine, and that somehow makes it easier for me. Am I a terrible person? I really just need to find the motivation to just... do it, eh?

I'm a rambling mess, and I'm sorry for that. I just don't know what to do.

In other news:

1) My friend Amanda Hocking's book, Switched, came out last Tuesday, and you should totally go buy it. If you don't know about Amanda's story, she basically wrote one of--if not the bestselling self-published book series, and now that series has been picked up and republished by St. Martin's Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan, and I am so stinking happy for her. So, go buy her book.

2) I've began to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I'm totally in love. I've watched the first six episodes so far and they're totally epic. It's  like a mix between The Vampire Diaries, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Goosebumps. And I love it.

3) I also just watched Zero Day, a Blair Witch-style movie about two boys who document their lives from July to May 1, the day they go to school and shoot twelve people there. It was totally disturbing and I'm not sure if I loved it or hated it yet. But it seriously freaked me out.

So that's all, I guess. I will see you next week and will hopefully have started edits by then, and maybe a new project. We'll see.


  1. Hi, Alex. I actually like edits. It's my favorite part of the process. Sick, I know.

    I think it helps to have an end goal, Like, after 10 editorial passes, I'm going to submit it, or whatever. I always try to set a time limit for each pass. Sometimes I just focus on a specific aspect of the revision. I think taking it in small bites makes it less daunting.

    Congrats on completing it and best wishes with the edits.

  2. You have to make yourself do it. You just have to do it.

  3. Think of it this way: the first draft ISN'T writing. It's more like mental vomit. You get everything down so it's all laid out in front of you. The true art of writing IS revision. The first draft is a big hunk of clay and revision is carving away the extraneous bits and shaping it into something beautiful.

    Revision can only improve what you have. You want your story to improve, right?

    Read this essay by Anne Lamott. It tells you everything you need to know about the first draft and emphasizes why revision, while scary, is only for the best.

  4. Like Mary, I actually kinda like revising because the foundation is already there. First drafts are the hardest for me. I need to motivate myself to get everything down. But like you, this is all fairly new to me so take what I say with a grain of salt. I think maybe revising/editing chapter by chapter could work for you. That way, it's a bit smaller and not as daunting. But if you don't want to jump right in, don't do that. Maybe give yourself a few days to let those notes sit and don't think about anything writing-related. Give yourself an appointed date to start though because otherwise, you may not ever get around to it.

    Best of luck to you!

  5. You really just have to start doing it. In my opinion, edits and rewrites are only really scary when you let them overwhelm you. Take it bit by bit. "Bird by bird," as Anne Lamott's amazing book on writing says.

    I make a list of stuff the revision needs to address. Say the first item on the list is characters. I'll go through the manuscript, with character development in mind. Make each character have a clear goal, motivation, unique voice, flaws, etc. Then I'll move to the second item on the list, say, theme. I'll go through the manuscript to make sure there is a theme and that it's being developed throughout the book and enforced in each scene. Then I'll do a pass for grammar, weeding out extra words and overused phrases, etc.

    I have to break it down. Turn it into a big checklist and check each item off. That's what motivates me, seeing those checkmarks. I know how it feels to be too lazy. Believe me, I'm too lazy for almost everything. But editing is fun when you really get into it. Writing a first draft is hard for me and I can only do it in quick bursts, but I can easily do hours-long editing marathons. You can get swept up in it. And it'll only make your book better!

  6. I'm in the editing/revising stage now of a VERY raw first draft so I don't know how helpful my advise is but I found printing it all out (using way to much ink and paper) Finding a snazzy new red pen and just hacking at it form the start is getting me through it. Maybe it's taking a while but pages can quickly turn into chapters and soon it's done! Best of luck Alex!

  7. Sometimes you just have to plug through it.

    I found that I appreciated editing a lot more after having completed the process once. It's difficult for me to want to stick with it sometimes too, but after forcing myself to do it I look back and see the progress I made with my manuscript and that's where I find the motivation. I love seeing my work get a little less horrible each time.

    The first time around for me, the answer was basically--force myself to do it. It's become easier with each manuscript I've written since, and I'm now to the point where I like revising. Oddly enough, it's also made it easier for me to get through my first drafts because I allow myself to spit out crap when I'm stuck. Because hey, I know it's going to change later anyway.

    Good Luck!

  8. I actually enjoy editing. I like fixing errors and finding those plot holes that I've unwittingly created. I like all my little plot points to line up nicely. :) But it does take time (lots of it!) and dedication. So, make sure you actually want to edit your story. If you don't, leave it for another time. I think an excellent thing to do is to write something, leave it alone for a month (or two or twelve) and then come back to it. You'll see right away if you adore it as much as you remember or if...well, kind of stinks. And then you fix it or toss it back into the drawer for another month. Work on something that is exciting for you. :)

  9. 1. Yay for Amanda! You've definitely convinced me to pick up a copy of SWITCHED, Alex.

    2. DOUBLE YAY FOR BUFFY!!! Although, in later seasons, the show loses its flavor (as most do), the fact that you love it proves to me that---

    3. You can do these edits. If you want to see this manuscript kick butt like a vampire slayer, you're going to have to help it out a little bit, you know? But that's okay! Because you CAN do it. You didn't think you could finish NaNo and you did it. You didn't think that was it, did you? What's that saying that I've grown to hate because my mother tends to use it against me...? Something about, "You may have won the battle, but you've yet to win the war." You're obviously fighting for this manuscript because you WANT to see it make some magic. So it might not be now, or six months from now, or a year from now that you take it up, but you CAN do the edits. It's just... you have to really explore your own heart and think of whether or not you WANT to do the edits.

    I love the advice that others have given you on this. I hope you take it all to heart and you li-sten-to-them. That's some good stuff up there and you do hear what everyone's saying, don't you? If this is the book, you've just got to do them. If you WANT to see this first draft become something resembling a novel, you've just got to do them.

    Brainstorm. Rethink. Plot out. Fall in love again. And THEN revise. Only you know what this story needs. It's in you somewhere, and it's always been--- and will always be--- up to you to bring it out.

    Sleep well, Sunshine,
    P.S. A quote a day keeps the doctor away! I stopped sending them to you, but I think I'll start that up again. Encouragement is key. NO you're not the only one who is jaded by edits, but as Hilary Duff told us in "A Cinderella Story," you should "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." Because really, Alex... What do you have to lose? Good luck, Love.

  10. Oh, and THIS POST by the lovely Natalie Whipple will help with any fears of not only editing, but the big scary rewrite. Dun, dun, dun! And also, it's not so bad, I suh-wear.


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