A “Hard Edit” as I like hard to call it is a hard copy, in detail edit of a manuscript. It doesn’t matter if this is a paper for school, fiction, or non-fiction. This is going to be the hardest edit you will have to do. You’ve already gone through on your laptop and added in and corrected the little things that Word or whatever program you’re using has highlighted for you and now you have to go through and really, really look at it.
Here are some tips, tools and lessons that I am learning as I go through and work on mine.
Put Some Time in Between Edits: Fresh eyes can do wonder for your editing in terms of seeing misspelling and grammatical mistakes. When you are so familiar with your baby and what you want to say, your mind will automatically correct it without you even realizing it.
The Red Pen is My Friend: Don’t be afraid of the red pen or anything that goes along with it. Editing is needed no matter how good of a writer you are, no matter what. Stop thinking about editing as corrections; stop thinking of other people editing as insulting to your brainchild. Think of it as a good was to go through and let even more inspiration flow into your world.
Love the Red Pen.
Make a Schedule: For me, editing is not fun. I don’t like doing it and it can get tedious and make my mind hurt. But like I said, it has to be done. Just like when you were writing, make a schedule. Tell yourself what you are going to do on what days and just do it. Put it into your planner or bullet journal and check it off when you are done. I personally allow myself two days for each chapter. The first is to go through with my pen in my hard copy and edit. The second is to take that chapter to my laptop and correct anything and insert or delete whatever I have marked off. This will also help with “The addiction.” The addiction, of course, is to move onto my next novel or project. We’re all creative minds and while that’s great, it can also stop us from actually completing a task if we don’t restrain ourselves.
Invest in Printing and Binding: A Hard edit is not just hard mentally but for me means a hard copy. After my soft edit (going through on my computer and correcting the obvious mistakes that jumped out at me) I overworked my printer. All 254 pages. All 70k plus words. Yes, it’s a lot. My pole punch only punched 12 pages at a time and when I went to get a new one the biggest they had only did 45 pages at a time and cost $50! No no no. We’re writers here! I don’t want to blow that much on a freaking hole punch. Wandering over to the business section of Office Max I found that it only costed $3.49 to spiral bind it plus another few cents to get the cover and a back put on. It is the best $5 I have ever spent. Not only is it easier to carry around and work with, keep my pages in order and keep everything tidy but it’s a huge boost in your morale to see that book that you’ve worked so hard on looking all pretty and see some of the people waiting in line see “Oh my gosh! Look at everything that woman has actually written and accomplished!” I feel proud every time I look at it!
Writing and Editing Are Two Very Different Animals: Like I said before, editing is hard. Where over the past few months or month you were going through and free forming this beautiful world you had to be all kinds of amazingly creative. Now, though, you have to switch gears and be the meticulous grammar nazi. It’s hard to switch! Be prepared for that. Some people can work in silence. I can’t. Plus if I’m home I get distracted. But in crowds of people, I get distracted too! So I went onto Spotify, under the “Focus” tag and found playlists meant for studying. It works.
Kill Your Darlings: This is the hardest part of the editing process. Hours and hours of work and sometimes….sometimes you just need to let go. It hurts. It hurts like rubbing your eyes after cutting jalapenos. But you have to be prepared to cut out words, sentences, even chapters. If you have a hard time with this, do what I do. Each draft, copy and paste into a different word file. At least then you have it.
As you go through this process though I want you to remember something. It’s very important. Everyone says that they are going to write a novel. Everyone.
If you have gotten to this point in the process you HAVE. You’ve written a novel when most people never ever do.
You are amazing.