Approaching Editing

writing-2This week has been a productive one, at least over the last 72 hours. After discovering 750, I have managed to write on there for the last five days. I have rediscovered Morning Pages. I had forgotten how much i liked doing them and how much of a help they are. It’s not work on my work in progress but it just allows me to get all of the baggage out of my head and onto the page. If you’ve never tried Morning Pages before then I recommend them.

As for the first draft of the novel, so far, so good. I have written just over 3,000 words since the beginning of the weekend. My problem now, is keeping the momentum going. As I may have mentioned before, I have a habit of reading what I’ve written too soon after writing it.


One of the questions I like asking other authors, is how they edit. Everyone it seems, has a different system and way of approaching the editing process. Some edit as they go along and some wait until there’s a first draft. Others write many drafts, some write 20,000 words as a skeleton and then build on it.

There is a process as a writer of finding your feet and I am still attempting to find mine although at the moment, I think that waiting for a first draft would suit me better. You can’t edit what isn’t there and I am spending so much time in re-writes too early on and am therefore getting too caught up in the quality of the first draft.
It is of course, your writing journey and one that is unique to you.

How do you approach editing? Do you edit as you go along or wait until there is a first draft? Do you have any advice for people approaching editing for the first time?

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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

4 Responses to Approaching Editing

  • Laura says:

    Thanks for the comment, Julie. It’s daunting isn’t it. Good luck with your draft. Keep in touch.
    750 words is great. 🙂

  • Julie Stock says:

    Hi Laura,
    I’m trying to finish the first draft of my first novel too and I have fallen into some of the traps you mention. I began by writing 80,000 words with no real plan in my mind but as I drew near the end, I couldn’t work out how to make the ending happen. I discovered Scrivener at that point and put all my work into it, separating it into parts, chapters and scenes and wished I had written an outline first! I was still no nearer writing the end though and started rewriting the beginning and middle to see if that would help. I have now done this a couple of times and earlier this week, it felt like I was stuck in a kind of Groundhog Day situation.

    So, I decided to just press on towards the end, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be. As Jon said in the comment above and I have read this advice in many other places, it’s important to finish the first draft first! I hope to finish soon and then start the long process of editing and rewriting properly. I am dreading that though. I hope that I will not find it as bad as I’m expecting it to be.

    I’m off now to look up!

    Thanks for this article.

  • Jon Rance says:

    Hello Laura,

    I’m Jon Rance, author of This Thirtysomething Life and Happy Endings, both published by Hodder and Stoughton. Editing is for me the most difficult part of writing and it’s where the real work gets done. The way I write is by getting the first draft done as quickly as possible. Write the whole thing beginning to end, don’t re-read except the previous days work to get going again and then when all 80,000 or whatever number of words are done, sit back, read it and then start the editing process. I probably edit ten to twenty times after the first draft.

    The way I see it, the first draft is the skeleton. It’s the bones and then with every edit you add a bit more meat until eventually you have the finished product. My first few novels took me a long time, 1 1/2 to 2 years. I was working full-time then, of course, but even now a novel takes the best part of a year from beginning to end. I think a sensible course of action is to write 1000 to 2000 words a day and then you’ll have the first draft done in a matter of months. Then you can start the editing process.

    This is, of course, just how I do it. The thing about being a writer is finding out how you work best. You can’t copy other writers because what works for them may not work for you. I don’t plan much for example, while others plan loads. I think though that getting a first draft down is key because it gives you something to work on.

    I hope this is helpful and best of luck.


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