Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Editing your manuscript; It just needs another coat of paint

As I was recently working on a fun painting project with my fiancé, I realized that the writing process is a lot like painting.  First you have to decide on your colors and get all you supplies - just like writers have to come up with their story idea, and do the research.  When it's time to begin, you just have to put the brush on your project.  It helps to use a good paint with a basecoat built right in, just like having some natural talent as a writer helps your writing.  It usually comes out a little rough at first, the coverage is uneven, the brushstrokes might be messy, but the whole point of this first layer is to get the paint on.  Thinking about the writing process, this is your first attempts at writing, just getting words on the paper.  If you worry too much about getting it perfect, you will never get the words down. 

It takes time to get coverage all over and then comes the hard part, you have to be patient and wait for it to dry.  If you keep trying to touch up little imperfections it will make things even worse and it is a never ending battle.  To get perspective in your writing, you really need to step away from your first draft, you could work for days at small changes, but taking some time away lets everything settle - on your painting and in your manuscript.  When it is ready you can add your second coat, or in the case of your writing, fill in all the missing details.  Now you can begin to see your project coming together.
Once again you need some patience here, to let the project really dry.  If you try to put finishing touches on too soon - it just won't be ready.  When painting my chairs, they sat overnight, and then I wanted to add the style to really make the chair my own.  I made the mistake of not using the proper tools, I started to add the accent color and basically I made a mess - but thankfully I was smart enough to stop & get the right tools for the job.  This is the part in your editing process where you need tools like an outside editor (or two or three) to help you get the job done.  In painting, my tool was as simple as some painter's tape. 
It took some time and effort to apply the painters tape, but it saved so much time in fixing mistakes later. It is uncomfortable, and even a struggle at times, but once I carefully removed the tape, I had such a beautiful chair.  Editing your manuscript can be a struggle too - it feels uncomfortable, but if you use the right editor, once the tape is removed you will be happy with the finished product too.  Now beware, even after the tape came off, I still found a few spots that needed some touch up.  One extra look through your manuscript (or two or three)  can find any spots that still might need a touch up.

Your project is complete, make sure to find time to really enjoy it!  It's okay to show off and brag a little, you worked really hard.  Make sure to celebrate and brag about your manuscript too.   Not only is this a good way to celebrate, but it helps to generate some pre-sales excitement for your book.
After some time relaxing and enjoying your creation, if you are anything like me, you will be ready to start on another project soon.


  1. Accurate analogy. Waiting for things to dry is tough though.

  2. I agree Patricia - that's the hardest part for me too, I currently have a manuscript, but it needs some serious editing to make it ready for sale, having something so close and needing to wait to get it right is really hard.