Home > Editing > 5 Tips For Motivated Editing

5 Tips For Motivated Editing

October 29th, 2013 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
  • Tweet
  • Tweet

Do you have editing fatigue? Trouble getting motivated? Can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel? Try these five easy steps to pull you through the editing process!

I first published this post in September 2012. I find myself in a similar situation now, so have given it a bit of spit and polish and sent it into the world again (and it really does have five tips this time!)

The problem with editing

I am one of those writers who prefers having written to actually writing.

Even so, I find myself enjoying first drafts more and more, once I get into the swing of things. Drafting has a series of inbuilt motivators that help me get in the mood, and also give me that “having written” buzz.

For a start, it’s a very creative process. Even if you have a thorough plan, you will no doubt deviate a little or embellish with details you had not anticipated. The sense of discovery, of a world or characters taking over, can be a joyous experience.

It also has an easily measurable sense of progress. Not only can you feel your way through, due to progression of the plot, but you can look at your word count and record it.

With a target word count in mind, you can even count down if you wish. The finishing line grows ever closer.


Image courtesy of Sharon Drummond on Flickr.

Editing is different. Well, cutting is one thing, and less of an issue, but – let’s call it creative editing – is something else entirely. A lot of those naturally occurring motivators disappear: Gone is the word count; gone is the clear sense of progress.

Instead you may be wading through your words, looking to add depth, reading the whole thing again and realising it’s still not enough. It’s slow, laborious work.

No “Natural motivators”? Make Some!

And here is where I find myself. Realising the real risk of stalling, I decided to see if I could generate some motivators from editing.

And the good news is there are ways you can motivate yourself to edit. Tweet this

  1. Make a plan. Check! You may have already seen my editing plan (form a while ago). I wrote it mainly to organise my thoughts on what was wrong with the story, and so I could focus whilst going through the draft. But a plan also provides you with that sense of progress (Tweet this).

    By dividing your editing into areas needing attention, you structure your edit. This lends itself rather nicely to checkboxes you can put large, triumphant ticks in! How satisfying!

    Note: You may decide to divide your edit into passes, as I have done, especially if the work is short. This is intended to give me focus. However, some people may find it dulls their sense of progress, as you go over the whole document several times. Find what works for you.

    plan for profit

    Well, you’ve gotta have a plan

  2. Set some goals. Craig was talking about his targets a while ago. I suggest you have a gander.

    Setting goals goes rather nicely with having an editing plan. Once your work is divided, you can decide how much you’re going to do per week. That gives you an idea of the date you’ll finish. Give yourself some breathing room, so you don’t get disheartened if you slip. You now have a date – there’s your finish line.

  3. Imagine the finished product. Don’t lose sight of the prize at the end! Imagine your pristine book, its cover, how it looks on the Kindle store or how it feels and smells. Imagine your pride at having finished something, at being able to say, honestly, “this is the best work I can produce right now”.

    Do all this every time you sit down to edit. Be eager for it, hunger for it! That appetite will help.

  4. Think of a reward for yourself. Is there something you want? Maybe you’ve been eyeing a particular set of shoes, or a book or video game. Maybe you have a particular meal or treat you love? Use that as a reward! Add it to your goals so you can see it at the end.

  5. Fantasise about your next project. Try thinking just a little about your next project. I’m always most excited about a project before I first put pen to paper (or fingers to keys or whatever) – I can’t wait to get started! Could you use that to motivate you to finish quicker?

    Try all of these but be aware of the effect each has on you. For example, that last one may be a double-edged sword. You don’t want to be put off your current project even more by thinking about your next one.

    Similarly, be careful hat you still do the best job you can – don’t rush to get to your reward!

    Over to you:
    This is what I’ll be trying over the next three weeks. Motivation is something I’ve struggled with during the editing phase, and I know many others do too! So please, if you’ve got any tips, or just want to air your own editing agonies, please hit the comments below.

Categories: Editing Tags: , ,