The editing process

Editing is the most work when writing / publishing a book.  It’s tedious, cumbersome, review, edit, review, edit and many won’t finish this phase of the writing process.  This post shares some of my experience, perspective.   I hope you find encouragement and it helps you finish what you started.

How long should I edit my work?

Here is the direct answer.  Reading the same text over and over you wrote becomes so mind numbing, the original excitement of writing the piece is gone.  When I reach that point, I know the article, book or whatever I’m writing is nearly complete and ready for another set of eyes.

How long does it take to get to this point, for me it’s usually months going over and over the manuscript.  I’ll work on the manuscript for a while, put it down and then review days, weeks later.  Each book has been a different story line, usually…I’ll experience whatever God inspired me to write, I document along the way and when the manuscript is complete, the editing process begins.  I will work on it until the resources to pay for an editor are made available.  I don’t put a timeline on how long I should edit.

  1. I write until it’s time for another person(s) to give their professional opinion.  Don’t rush this phase.  Make sure you have the feeling your work is done, the story is completely documented and organized to what you think.
  2. When you do turn over your work to another person, the editing phase can take weeks or a couple months.  In this timeframe, it can help refresh your batteries and ponder more on the story.  When you get it back, take a deep breath because like in English class, lots of red ink.

Since my books are self-published, there is no set timeline.  Having  loose time helps “get the work done”, but don’t rush to get something done and have it 1/2 baked.

Why do we edit our work?

Like this blog post, I won’t spend more than an hour or so writing down my thoughts and publish, it’s informal.  When writing books, it’s a MUCH longer process.  The first part is a journey, something in your life changes, it could be new and exciting, a tragedy or something else.  Whatever the story line, documenting the story and making it enjoyable to read is a must.  If you are going to write, sell and share your story (heavy on the sell part), then having a professional editor(s) is a must.

For me personally, I hire two things:

1) artwork

2) editing

With the short attention span in todays world, taking weeks or months to do something is out of the norm.  Before social media, there were deadlines to get a story published, writing was handled by professionals who were gifted in writing.  The mediums of which information was shared was limited.  Since the explosion of the internet, twitter and other social media platforms.  Timeframes to publish information has GREATLY reduced.   Book writing by it’s nature is a process, for me, it’s normally takes around 18 months for the entire scenario to happen.  This involves the “story behind the book”, the writing of the experience and editing, the 4th phase is selling / marketing (we will talk about later).

For something to take 18 – 24 months, a fair amount of time has passed.   The attention span of the world can’t usually see past next week let alone two years from now.   When telling a good story, it takes a few revisions before ready for others to read the story.   It’s a courtesy to your reader to have something polished, and enjoyable to read.

One of the reasons you document a story, write it down to share so others will have the same feeling or connection from your experiences.  If you have an unpolished story, incomplete topics or slap something together, you are doing an injustice to yourself and your reader.  Embrace different people willing to review your work, provide feedback to make it better.  When someone buys your work, you’ll appreciate having multiple people who have reviewed your book.

Who should do it?  

I’ve had the privilege of hiring English teachers, students, other professional editors to review and critique my work.   Editing is not for the faint of heart, when you hand your manuscript over to someone else, you want that person to be as emotionally attached as you.   In reality, they are passionate about having quality writing.  Your manuscript is something they are reading from an outsiders perspective.   This is needed when you are sharing a story.

From my experience, it’s hard to see corrections when they come back.  Whole sections of text removed, many phrases are altered.  It’s hard to read at first.  They’ve taken your masterpiece and carved it up.  As much as I want to take it personal, I’m glad they have outside eyes, this is a term I use to describe someone who isn’t involved or know me personally or the story.

It’s important to get someone else to read your work, preferably a professional rather than a friend, whoever it is, make sure they’ll give you an honest opinion.   The individuals I’ve had review my manuscripts were not family or close friends, I welcomed their honest and direct opinions.  Ultimately, it’s your option to accept or reject their suggestions.   The type of writing I do, when the Holy Spirit inspires a new poem, those generally don’t require too much editing (it is inspired after all), most of my text that get’s edited is when I describe the Story Behind the poem.

Conclusion

Not everyone is a writer, for those who choose or have chosen to be a writer, selecting an independent, passionate editor to review your work is critical.  The attitude a writer should have is the editors are an asset, they want your work to be the best it can be.  The more you write, the more you’ll appreciate this.  If you are on your first or second book, remember to embrace the editing process, it might seem like the movie “Ground Hog day”, the same thing over and over. when you receive the email stating your work is published, it’s a great feeling.

Keep Pondering,

Steve

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