What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed While Editing| Writers Advice

What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed While Editing| Writers Advice

My god, where do I start?

I’m minding my own business, writing my novel, and living my best life. Then it comes time to sending it to my beta.

So, I finish my fourth draft, did a little more editing and hand the whole manuscript to my beta reader. She takes her time reading it, picking out every small detail before she gives a detailed analysis on what i need to fix. It was great feedback but now, I’m dejected.

Here I was, thinking i did my absolute best and there will only be minimal things to go back and fix. Instead, I get a four page feedback telling me what could be improved (as it should be). Now, I’m not saying i’m cocky and know i have the best work out there but after going back endlessly and fixing every mistake i could spot, I really thought I had it on lock. Turns out I didn’t.

As someone who used to open Word and work on my novel for hours on end, filled with excitement and ready to write the next scene and sharpen it up, I was now demotivated and lost.

I refused to open Word for several days straight and when I did open it, I would blankly stare at chapter 1, page 1 before switching to something else. I didn’t know where to start. I had no clue what to do. I’d rather pull my hair out, one by one, before i started editing and revising for the fifth time.

I was so overwhelmed with the feedback my beta reader gave me that I so desperately needed but now that I had it, i didn’t know what to do with it.

I finally started working on draft five. (My god, do the drafts ever stop?)

Where did I start?

Well, I started at the beginning but I didn’t go through picking out the nitty gritty, trying to fix up every conversation and every line. That’s the thing that demotivated me from the start so I decided to start with the big picture.

With each large, important scene, I went in and dumped in paragraphs of information that was missing, knowing I was going to come back and re-edit it but for now, i just needed to get it out. I described feelings using the five sense (but sparingly) rather than letting the page sit cold and hollow. If she was sad, I dimmed the humor that I was used to writing to set the tone. Piece by piece, scene by scene, I’m making progress and fixing the details i overlooked.

For example, in once scene, she and Cupid go her families house for dinner. At the end of the chapter, i mention how he won over her family but realistically, all we really saw was the main character (Sophia) arguing with her sister, being timid with her father, and loving with her grandma. There was hardly much of Cupid winning over her family. When my beta reader mentioned this, I went to that scene and fixed it up in the best way I could. That’s what i loved doing anyways; writing creative scenes. I just hate editing.

Once that’s out of the way, I can go chapter by chapter and start to polish it (hopefully for the second last time. Draft 7 has to be the charm).

When you’re overwhelmed, start with what you know best. I knew that chapter by chapter wasn’t going to cut it so I went through the scenes that needed to be fixed and did just that. Slowly work your way down to what you dreaded because by the time you get there, you’ll have untangled the mess and you won’t be dreading it as much anymore.

Disclaimer: I am speaking from personal experience (as I’m sure you can tell) and sharing the advice that helped me. As we all know, we are unique individuals and what works for me, may not work for you but hopefully this helped!

I’d love to hear what you do when your overwhelmed. This is the strategy i use for when I’m writing my novel but God knows i have no strategy when I’m writing essays.

Thanks for reading!