Wherein Imogen Shares Her Epic Editing Process


If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me procrastinating by tweeting about my editing woes. Yep, I’m still editing that same stubborn fantasy book. It’s a long, heart breaking process filled with many tears, red pens, and oceans of tea. And, if you’re me, it takes FOREVER. So, while I’m still wallowing in the misery of edits, I thought I’d share what my editing process actually looks like. It is, of course, the most amazing thing you have ever seen.

Me: This first chapter stinks. But we knew that coming it. The main plot’s solid now, so I can concentrate on the start this time. No stressing—Oh my biscuits, this bit’s AWFUL. Calm. Calm. Don’t look at those ten pages…Where is YouTube when I need it? Positive thoughts Imogen. It gets way better than this.

Me: …When does it get good? I’ve been waiting 73 pages. I swear I’ve got more notes on what’s wrong than there are words in this whole book. The middle’s so much better though. Chin up.

Me: LIES. It’s all LIES. I did not write this book. Some third grader took my perfectly good book and rewrote it.

Me: …First graders write better than me. This calls for tea and chocolate. And thirteen hours on YouTube. This book is going to look so much better when I’m done with it. Later.

Me: *head desk* How many more pages are there to go?

Me: Wait, is that the last ten pages? Pfft, I got this. Stand back.

Me: Thank cake that’s over. See, it wasn’t nearly as bad Ok, so this won’t take too long to fix, right? We’ll be on to the next book in no time.

Me: *head desk* I’m never going to get this book right. There are 3,908,873 pages of things I need to fix. Kill me now…

Me: If I can’t read the notes, I totally don’t have to fix them. Engage medical handwriting. Ha, I’ve got you now edits!

Me: Wait, what are you even doing in this book Minor Character? I thought you left three drafts ago?

Secondary Character: But I’m so adorable! Remember that one gorgeous line I have on page 37? I’m totally worth keeping.

Me: Well…


Me: …Kill me…

Me: Right, where’s that list of editing issues? Let’s do the thing! Charge!

Me: Uh, was the list always that long?

Me: I totally need to rewrite all these illegible notes and organise them by type, alphanumeric order, and ascending spiral of importance. It’ll only take 39 months. Totally worth it.

Me: More tea! And a Dragon. I have me a pile of rubbish to burn. It’s not like it’s going anywhere anyway. Don’t look at me like that book. It’s your own fault you’re terrible.

Me: I don’t wanna dooooooooooo this. You can’t make me!

Twitter: You can do it! We believe in you!

Me: …

Me: *edits*

Book: Ha! Oh that feels good. I feel pounds lighter. Don’t stop. This is the best thing that happened since you lost that subplot about goats. Not one of your brightest ideas, mind.

Me: …

MC: Wait, what did you call me? You called me Kat? How dare y—Actually, that’s not bad. It kinda suits me. I’m still mad at you though.

Me: *concentrating face*

Family: Uh, we haven’t see you in about three weeks. Do you think you should come out and see the sun occasionally? One can’t live on tea and chocolate forever.

Me: Says you. *consumes tea and chocolate*

Me: *blank stare*

Me: …I’m….done. I’m done? I’M DONE! BOOYAH! TAKE THAT BOOK! Wait, what day is it again?

Me: *celebratory victory dance*

Me: *celebratory dance into faceplant*

Me: Bring out all the cake! I am the king of editing!

Me: *collapses* I am never writing again.

Me: Oh look. Shiny new idea!

New Idea: Hi there, I’m a super complicated book with nineteen points of view, a love pentagon, an adventure across six dimensions, a mutant fire breathing chicken, and ninjas from Pluto. It’s going to need eleventy two years to write and five lifetimes to edit. Come on, doesn’t that sound awesome?


Me: ...

Me: WHY…?!

That’s my editing process. What does yours look like? Where are you in the writing process at the moment? Tell me about your latest project! 

Photo credit: Sharon Drummond / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: {AndreaRenee} / Foter / CC BY 

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  1. This is painfully accurate AND SO CORRECT ARHGHHH. Particularly that "blank stare finish". *sobs* I always have like this ONE SCENE that I thought was genius in every draft and I just tell myself everything will be better once I get up to editing that...and then I get there and that scene is sooo baaaaad. xDXD hehe. BUT STILL. It's rewarding to finish, right?!? Cake is also rewarding. Much cake. Omg.

    1. Oh that scene. I have those too. Always. Much cake though. Cake fixes everything. I swear editing would be twice as hard as it already is if it wasn't for cake.

  2. AAAAAH THIS IS THE MOST ACCURATE. I actually enjoy planning edits, though, far more than editing itself. And LIES. People can clearly live on tea and chocolate. Cake as well, as a treat. There is an odd calmness to finishing. It's like yay. I finished. now what. my life has no more meaning. (Until the next draft, as you rightly point out. And yet -- there is something compelling about the process. I couldn't live without writing/editing, I think.)

    1. Of course people can live on tea and chocolate. It's a conspiracy to make sure writers get some sort of social interaction with families I think, making them come out for meals. Oh that feeling of being done. It's almost like being empty. You've poured all your time, energy and being into the book and now it's just...done.

  3. Haha. XD The thing that gets me the most about editing is how much bloody time it takes. I line edited one of my books recently and it took me three hours to do twelve pages. XD


    1. I KNOW RIGHT? It takes so long to find the right way to say anything. One paragraph can take half an hour if it's bad. *sigh*. Why must it be like this?

  4. Ahhhh yeah this is painfully true. It's funny when I read posts like this I'm like why do we writers put ourselves through all of this hard stuff and then I walk away and get a shiney new idea and I remember why we write. :D

    1. I think that's why non-writers think we're so crazy. They see our writing life as this pain with all the wailing and despair, and they think we're nuts because they don't know what it's like to have a great writing day or a shiny new idea or a break-through. Though we're still crazy really, aren't we?

  5. *faints* This is why I have a totally different editing process than most people, because my brain would just fry at this. I tried taking a list of notes and dealing with them all and everything, but I just froze up because there were too many things to focus on. (By the way, I applaud you for being able to survive this process and make it work.) I just read my draft, make a few mental notes and writhe inwardly at how horrible it is, and then I rewrite the whole stinking thing line by line, word for word, figuring out what I need to do and when I need to do it as I go along. Other people might find this more overwhelming, and I totally understand why, but I find that it's the only process that works for me.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. This post is too funny! It basically describes my feelings to a tee. I HATE editing, but at the same time I love it because it makes my not-so-great first draft actually readable. When I get to the end though, I always celebrate!

    Great post!

  7. The only difference between me and you is that I actually let like three people I respect read this thing thinking I know what I'm doing before I realize that NO I SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE THAT AND THE PROCESS OVERTAKES ME. LIKE THIS IS SO TRUE. *bawls and weeps* There is like, no way to have self-esteem about your writing while you're editing. So overwhelming. So hard. So much chocolate. So. much. chocolate.

  8. I giggled through this entire post. This is SO REAL, oh my goodness. (Especially reading the first draft - I generally arm myself with tissues and chocolate on the first readthrough, because there are inevitably at least two places where I burst into tears and swear off writing forever.)

    Let us just keep reminding ourselves: we are here because we love this. Writing is our calling. There is nothing we'd rather do. And all those other things we have to tell ourselves to stay sane in all of this insanity. ;)


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