Surviving your first professional edit (Part 1)

PE_Surviving your first professional edit part 1

I am currently experiencing my first ever professional edit.

I’ve edited my own stories before but last month was the first time a book was taken out of my hands completely. I’m pleased and proud to say that Julie Hutchings did the honours, but whilst she was ripping The Elder Throne apart, I was left with empty hands and idle thumbs.

Well, you know what they say about devils and thumbs.

Here are my survival tips for dealing with your first edit.

Leave it alone completely. Yes, completely.

My first week was a bit of a nightmare. I was jittery and kept thinking of things I wished I changed before handing my novel over to Julie. I was afraid that she’d take one look at a gaping plot hole and think I was wasting her time. In that first week, I discovered that a secondary character really didn’t hold together as I hoped they would, and a million typos I’d somehow missed.

Then, thanks to this tweet from Summer Wier, all my worry stopped.

I realised, it was completely out of my hands now. There was plenty of time to worry about changing The Elder Throne when Julie handed it back covered in neon post-it notes. For now, I had free time, and I was going to gosh-darn fill it up.

Take a walk.

I’m not usually one for exercise but occasionally it helps. If you’re avoiding a busy mind, keeping a busy body helps a great deal.

I filled my weekends with walks in forests with my nephew and nieces (and their dog) and even took part in Go Ape, which involved flinging myself from treetops, zip lining and swinging like Tarzan into a gigantic net.

Sure, it hurt in the morning, but I definitely wasn’t thinking about my book. (Except that once when I thought Go Ape looked like a tree city and that my MC would have great fun here. But shhh.)


If you’re like me, writing a book tends to bring out the hermit in you. I’m a fairly social person but nothing’s worse than human company when you’re trying to concentrate on getting a plot hole filled or a character to shine. Humans are annoying, but your friends and family presumably want your company.

An editing period is the time to make up for all those times you shut the door and say ‘No, I’m writing’.

Go out, catch-up with friends you haven’t seen in a while, watch a film with family, fight over the remote, throw pillows at your sister or something large and heavy at your brother.

Avoid the computer.

This is hard for me to do as my day job requires me to work on the computer.

The reason I say avoid it, however, is that you’ll be surprised at how much time you waste checking emails and tweets, perhaps waiting for a little snippet of news from your editor, even if you don’t realise that’s what you’re doing.

This is akin to waiting for an ex-partner to text you back.

Stop it, it’s pathetic.

Shut your computer down and go do something else, like…

Read. Read. Read.

I’ve fiercely attacked my bookcase this past month. There’s no better escape from your own book than to jump into someone else’s.

As well as distracting you for X amount of time (depending on how many books you can get through without stopping for breath), it also feeds and restores your mind so that, when you eventually get your book back, you can look at it with fresh, knowledgeable eyes.

Win – win.

Revive a hobby.

Writing takes up a shocking amount of time. There’s plotting and pre-planning, first drafts, second drafts, procrastination, third drafts, pulling your hair out, saving up for a wig, fourth drafts, etc… so it stands to reason that some other enjoyable activities fall by the wayside.

For me, this is baking.

I love baking and I’m surprisingly okay at it too. I turned to baking in March and filled my days with kneading dough and icing homemade biscuits.

I really enjoyed myself and it was great to be making something with my hands again. Find a forgotten hobby and breathe life back into it.

Start something new.

Flash-fiction. Plotting a sequel. Blowing off creative steam with something completely different and unrelated to your novel-in-progress.

Any of these options are viable distractions if you’ve been bitten by the writing bug so hard that you can’t distract yourself with any other activity. Take part in writing competitions, submit something to an online magazine, or simply write something ridiculous for a friend.

I wound up doing all three of the options above. I wrote two pieces of flash-fiction, Amour l’est amour and First Circle Inc., blew off some steam with The Maria Story (vanity project for a friend), and I began researching and plotting The Winter Court.

My research took me places I hadn’t thought of – and wouldn’t have thought of if I’d stayed worrying about The Elder Throne. I honestly believe the sequel will be better for my ‘time off’, and The Elder Throne too.

How do YOU survive Editing Season? 

Read: SYFPE [Part 2]

Go on, let me know what you think!

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