Average time?

So something that has had me on edge lately, is that I never know if I am ahead or behind in time. When I was in the writing phase, I knew what a decent goal was. I knew most writers wrote 1,500 words a day, or at least attempted to. In editing/revising/rewriting it is much harder to quantify your progress. I’ve gone pages without changing a word, and then spent an hour on a paragraph. So it’s hard to deal with.

I was listening to a new podcast I found lately called “Dead Robots’ Society” It doesn’t sound like it would be, but it is, in fact, a writing podcast. I scrolled through the archives to see them talk about writing. The two hosts argued over the term “editing” is editing just cleaning up grammar? Or is it revising/rewriting? Or is revising/rewriting a part of editing as a whole? This made me curious. Do people think it is taking me months to check grammar when I claim to be “editing” a book? Should I be saying “revising” instead. I think editing includes grammar checking as well as revising/rewriting when needed.

I think when all you are doing is grammar checking, you are really just copy-editing.

Editing is something that tends to get ignored. I find tons of hints on how to write,  but not a lot on editing. I wonder why this is. Is it because it is assumed that once the story is written, editing is easy? If so…I must be doing it wrong.



  1. April 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    NO! Editing is not easy, especially not self editing. You are basically taking your baby and chopping it up into millions of pieces just to glue it back together again.
    I have decimated my online story to even get it halway to what I want it to be, slightly awkward seeing as I wrote it as an online story, but progress is progress. I doubt you’re doing it wrong, editing is simply vile but an unfortunate evil all writers must sucumb to.

    • kyoske said,

      April 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Carol: I think it is particularly interesting that so many writers lament the editing process, because they think of it is chopping up what was once there. For the most part, I view it more like taking a chisel to smooth and refine rough edges.

      I am interested in the idea of on-line stories, but your tale of having to decimate it has me worried. I want to do a sort of “Tales of the City” thing like Armistead Maupin did. Short bites, that could be read weekly/daily but form a book (or in his case books) after a time.

      I think we can certainly agree on one thing. Editing is simply vile! And I never thought about this until you pointed it out, but self-editing is harder than editing other people. I find it easy to edit others, mainly because i just write “condense” or “this moment could be reinforced.” or things like that. I don’t have the doubly difficult duty of finding those things AND figuring out how to implement them.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Honestly, comments mean the world to me! I’ll try and stop by your blog soon!

  2. April 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    My advice? Don’t listen to any time or word count related writing advice (er, except for mine apparently XD) you find online. Everybody moves at their own pace. Some people will say you HAVE to write this much or this long per day or week or whatever, but what do they know? Editing is an ongoing process anyway – it’s hard to say how much time you spend on it when you go back to a piece a year later and change a comma or a period or a whole chapter.

    Maybe instead of using the words editing or revising, you should just say you’re making your story “even more hella awesome than it already is”? 😉

    • kyoske said,

      April 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      onlyfragments: I think at the next party I go to, I’ll try saying that instead of “editing.” It’ll at least make me laugh! I actually enjoy writing advice, even if I don’t agree with it, just because it is in reaction to something I’ve no doubt wrestled with myself. I’ve never wanted to be “average” but I like to know what “the average” is. It takes me forever to do things most people can do in seconds (I am legendarily slow at tying my shoes)

      I found knowing how many words to write a day useful, because it gave me a goal to shoot for. Over time, I was able to hit that goal almost without trying, and proceeded to write over it on most days. It was like I was a beginning runner, who finally could compete with the marathon guys. I assumed (clearly not a good idea in this case) that now that I had my writing legs, editing wouldn’t be such a big shift. It’s still using the muscles I developed in the drafting process after all. Unfortunately the shift was bigger than I expected. To continue my analogy, it is like I trained to run a marathon, but accidentally signed up to run in a triathlon. Sure the fact I’m in decent running shape helps, but when it’s time to ride the bike or swim in the pool I’m not as prepared as I’d like to be. Sure I’ll make it, but the expectation versus reality is hard to handle sometimes.

      Thanks for the advice, Thanks for stopping by! Hope to stop by your blog soon, and hope you’ll come back and comment more.

      • April 4, 2012 at 6:33 am

        I’m only eighteen so I had to decimate my story because my writing had improved so much since I started the work. I’ve found in the last two year that the quality of my work has shot up and a lot of my older stuff had to be revamped to match what I can do now.
        I’ll definatly make an effort to pop back and comment again, and I look forward to you stopping by the blog. I’m very proud of it.

      • kyoske said,

        April 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

        Oh, that makes a lot of sense. I think that is a big issue I have with editing. Namely, I have a hard time believing I ever wrote the last 1\3rd of the book, considering what the first 1\2 of the book looked like. When I read the first 100 pages of my manuscript I was appalled! Sometimes I find reading the later part of my book is helpful, just because it helps me believe that my own writing did actually improve.

        It’s really true what they say, the more you write, the better at it you become. Provided you are really committing to doing it well. I also have to remind myself/force myself to keep reading other authors. As I learn a lot from that as well.

  3. rachaeldahl said,

    April 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Editing, editing and more editing. When do you say enough is enough?? It seems I’ve edited my first chapter at least twenty times. Part of the problem is that I keep fixing what I think are glaring plot points.

    • kyoske said,

      April 3, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      Oh, you’re revising the same chapter over and over? I rarely do that. I mainly revise and move forward. I would suggest revising chapter 1, then moving forward, and not touching chapter 1 again until you’ve gone all the way through.

      • rachaeldahl said,

        April 4, 2012 at 11:52 am

        No, I’m actually on chptr 28, but I feel with all of the changes I’ve made that I keep editing the same stuff over and over.

  4. justinmacumber said,

    April 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    kyoske, first let me say thank you for mentioning my podcast. I’ve been doing it for four and a half years with a variety of co-hosts, so it feels like something that’s been known to the world for awhile. Then I see posts like this a realize how small my fish is, and how large the pond is beyond my site. I’m glad you found it, though, and I hope you enjoy it.

    Personally, I find the editing stage (and yes, I include all acts of changing and refining the story to be editing) incredibly exciting. Writing that first draft is fun, but it’s all broad strokes. Editing is when you get into the real meat of the story you’re trying to tell, making it sing and shine. Edit at your own pace, never feel like you have to meet an arbitrary timeline.

    Anyway, thank you again, and I hope I hear from you again.

    • kyoske said,

      April 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Dear Justin,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Yeah I was listening to one podcast, and learned you’d been doing it for years. I don’t know why I didn’t know about it. I might have assumed, that it was more of a podcast for fantasy/sci-fi writers. I agree that the first draft is all about broad strokes, and editing is more about taking those broad strokes and giving them context and detail.
      I think part of why I think I edit slowly, is because it is hard to quantify. Also…so few people discuss it or write about it, that I fee like it must be faster for everyone else. You yourself refer to going through your manuscript multiple times (sweeps) to catch various things. I am still on my first sweep and it is so slow, that I’m pretty sure I don’t have the willpower to do another one. Thankfully I have beta readers who will comment and notate areas that need fixing.
      You’ve definitely got a new listener with me! So I’m sure you’ll hear from me soon.

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