Editing a Novel: Struggling to get Started

0 Posted by - April 18, 2013 - My e-publishing journey


When I started this blog, I planned to talk about my experiences writing and editing a novel and working towards e-publishing it.

However, as the blog has progressed I’ve found myself writing about a range of topics, from the things that inspire me, to social media, blogging tips and book reviews. I write more now than I ever have, but apart from occasional articles featuring tips and support for writers, there has been very little blog content about my own writing journey.

That’s because it has pretty much stalled. All my writing time goes on the blog.

I have a manuscript sitting quietly on my laptop. I finished the first draft almost four years ago now, and it has taken on various forms since then. The book has twice been critiqued by literary assessment agencies and it’s been shortlisted for an award.

But still it sits unfinished.

To be fair to myself, it’s not far off. Perhaps a few tweaks to the story, an improved ending and a final polish to the writing are all that is required. So why can’t I get started?

Editing a novel seems like a monumental task from the outside, especially when I haven’t done any significant work on it for about 18 months. I worry that it will take more time than I have available. Yet, when I was shortlisted for an award in 2011, I managed to whiz through my novel in one weekend and cut almost 20,000 words in order to submit the full manuscript.

However, the girl who eventually won the competition wrote her entire book in two weeks, after only writing the first three chapters for the initial competition deadline. Puts me to shame!

Having my first manuscript unfinished makes it hard to work on anything else. It’s always at the back of my mind, whispering to be read or worked on. At least if I complete it and press the e-publish button, it is out there, finally. I’ll be free to move on.

So by writing this blog post I’m hoping to give myself another push. Instead of just talking about publishing my own novel, I need to give myself a boot up the behind and get –it – done!

Regardless of how good or bad it turns out to be (at the moment it’s somewhere in the middle), at least I will have achieved one of my goals. Plus I’ll be able to say to people: “You can buy my book on Amazon.”

This tactic worked for my recent blog redesign, so hopefully it will focus my energies on getting over my own anxiety and doing some work on my book.

You have permission to shout at me if I don’t!

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  • Jenn Lawson April 18, 2013 - 9:10 pm Reply

    :) I feel like I’ve could’ve written this same entry. I feel for you on the manuscript difficulties. I’ve been working on one for a few years, and it’s been through a handful of revisions. I have to work on a killer-climactic scene, and I feel like I want to get it just right. :)

    • Amy April 18, 2013 - 9:21 pm Reply

      Hey Jenn, it’s so hard isn’t it? I know the book needs to be better in certain places, but I do worry a bit about being able to get it right. Still, it won’t edit itself! Good luck with your manuscript!

  • Lisa Lewis Moon April 19, 2013 - 6:18 am Reply

    I am currently working on my second novel and I am stuck just as you are. No matter how many times I try to just finish it I find thousands of other things I would rather do instead. Mine isn’t in the edit stage. I have been editing instead of writing. Something is missing or “off” that makes me hate to sit down to it. Good luck getting past being stuck. I would love to be able to read it once you publish it.

    • Amy April 19, 2013 - 6:27 am Reply

      Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment, it always helps to know other people find it hard too! Perhaps if you have a break and then look back at your work you’ll spot what isn’t quite working? Good luck with it and let me know how it goes!

  • Caroline April 19, 2013 - 9:15 am Reply

    Amy, that’s so interesting – I had NO idea that you this lovely blog started out as a running commentary on writing a novel! Amazing :) I’ve been planning to write an e-book for some time, and like you, it just stalled and didn’t come nearly as easily as writing on my site. But I think if you’re still thinking creatively, new ideas/directions pop up to motivate you! I wrote a bit about my experience of it here: http://www.sparkles-and-crumbs.com/2013/03/24/you-must-write-every-single-day-of-your-life-you-must-read-dreadful-dumb-books-and-glorious-books-and-let-them-wrestle-in-beautiful-fights-inside-your-head/
    – but you have summed up the struggle so well!! xxx

    • Amy April 19, 2013 - 2:33 pm Reply

      Caroline, I think my biggest problem is THE FEAR…plus I’m a notorious self-doubter! I’ll get there in the end, but I won’t make it easy for myself! Will definitely look forward to hearing more about a Sparkles and Crumbs book, we’ll have to motivate each other! x

  • Hayley April 19, 2013 - 1:07 pm Reply

    I had to have exactly the same conversation with myself this week! I too have a manuscript all finished and ready to edit – but it needs a BIG edit. And last time I looked at it I walked away hating all the characters. I think this edit will be a total rewrite.

    So…I started a new book. I had these characters in my head that I couldn’t shake. Every morning I write – I’m not allowed to do anything else until I’ve done my writing (the beauty of being a freelancer, admittedly) – and it’s going great! Good luck with yours, I’m sure this will make all the difference!

    • Amy April 19, 2013 - 2:34 pm Reply

      Thanks Hayley, unfortunately I have the 9 to 5, which can be a bit restrictive but the time is there to write if I really discipline myself! I completely relate to the ‘big edit’, it’s very intimidating and that’s exactly where I am now! Good luck! x

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