While I can hammer out a manuscript in a couple of months time, editing is what takes me the longest. I take my time because I want to get everything right.
People who don’t write seem to think that it’s very easy. They’ll never understand it unless they try to do it. I treat writing and especially editing like poker. And like Mike McDermott said, “Your goal is to win one big bet per hour.”
I see writers talking about their word count all the time. That’s fine, but that only has to pertain to writing. I NEVER hear writers talk about their editing. There’s no “I edited 5 pages today” or “I edited 1000 words.” It’s like it doesn’t exist. It might also explain why people think it’s so easy to write a book when the true test is in editing.
Much like Mike McDermott, I grind it out. On those rare good days, I’ll have gone through a few pages. On most days, it’ll only be a couple of pages. On those bad days, I’ll be lucky to get through a page.
The key to grinding is to never look ahead. In a poker tournament, you don’t try to win the entire tournament in the first hour, and in writing, you don’t try to write the entire book by the first week. It’s a process. Editing is the deepest process and the one I do the most.
When I edit my story I’m looking for inconsistencies, plot holes, characterizations, detail, descriptions, adverbs, dialogue tags, typos, and grammatical errors, and it’s pretty much in that order too. But I can’t get all those things at once because that’s way too much stuff to focus on. So I go over my manuscript again and again, sometimes looking for the same thing repeatedly and sometimes looking for a different part of the layer.
Now if I thought about all those things I had to do, looked at how many pages I had left, or read all my editor’s notes at once, that shit would drive me insane. So I just take it word by word and thought by thought, grinding it out until I’m done. I shall finally be done with What Once Was One in about a month or two.
“He beat me straight up. Pay him. Pay that man his money.”