View Full Version : How do you know when to quit editing?

July 18th, 2011, 08:26 PM
For the past several years I've gotten to the point where I edit more than I write, and I end up losing more work than I'm creating. I've been compulsively editing my newest novel so often that after several years I only have a little more than a whole chapter. I always think I'm happy with what I have, but then someone reads it and finds little errors that make me edit everything all over again. When should a writer just stop editing and move on?

July 18th, 2011, 08:56 PM
Have you not finished a first draft? If not, consider putting off the editing until you've crashed out your first draft. Make notes in the margin if you have to, to say that you're going to come back and add something or change something, but don't stop to edit. Don't worry about quality. Get it done first, then get it right.

July 18th, 2011, 09:03 PM
I might just do that. I become much more productive when I'm not editing, but I'm just afraid of getting far into it and then throwing it all away again.

July 18th, 2011, 09:39 PM
I struggle with the same issue. I have been somewhat successful in suppressing my desire to edit as I go, and I've gotten almost 50K into my novel. I like most of what I've written although I know there's going to be a crapload of editing down the line. It makes me feel better to imagine that I'm laying out the foundations of what will (hopefully) become a great novel one day, and that if some parts don't jibe well right now I can iron them out later.

It does get scarier the farther into it I go, however. There's been a few times recently when I've just gotten really exasperated with the story and felt like the entire thing was a colossal waste. But I've already put so much time into it, and I feel like I've only written about a half of the story. So I'm going to plug away until the end (I'm notoriously bad at starting projects and never finishing them) and then take a break from it. Hopefully I won't end up like DanCol and come back to it a few months later and find it's horrible.

July 18th, 2011, 10:51 PM
We should start a group and call it Compulsive Editors Anonymous. LOL This is one of my biggest problems which I am trying to overcome with a blovel I'm working on. That's a blog novel for those of you who haven't heard the word before. I found the suggestion online and figured I'd give it a try. So far it's been working. The one section that a friend pointed out that might need some work, I went back in and highlighted, then left it alone.

One thing I would like to say definitively: do not throw away any of your work. Ever.

Olly Buckle
July 18th, 2011, 10:59 PM
To answer your title question, when I find myself changing it back to what it was before. I know I am just shuffling things about at that stage and it is only a matter of taste. If i am finding actual errors I will keep going.

July 19th, 2011, 04:56 PM
I guess the reason I edit on the way is that I love to share my what I have, and I can't share anything if I haven't edited it first. In the end though sharing it only makes the editing problem worse, so it is a hard decision. I guess I should just focus more on the writing and less on seeing what others think about the things I have already created.

July 19th, 2011, 05:02 PM
I like sharing my work with friends, too and they're reading my blovel as I write it. Taking the good with the bad.

July 19th, 2011, 05:11 PM
I have a hard time finding people to read it who aren't overly critical and insensitive to the fact that it's a first draft. They always choose to point out the little technical and stylistic things that need to be edited out instead of paying much attention to the story itself or the mood it creates. I get more comments on adverb usage than I do on storyline.

July 19th, 2011, 05:14 PM
I think my friends are just the opposite, telling me it's good when it's horrible. Still, I think that's okay for a first draft. As I stated previously, a friend pointed out something she had a little trouble with structurally, so I marked it and will go back to think about it later. At this point, I doubt I will change the wording, but I am not going to dwell on it right now. It's something you just have to force yourself to do: move on from the editing.

July 19th, 2011, 05:21 PM
I think I need to get in touch with your friends :-P

Just kidding