Editing Tip #4: Slow Progress Is Still Progress

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Have you ever seen a glassblower create a beautiful ornament or an intricate sculpture? From beginning to end, the process takes hours and hours as the glassblower heats, adds color, constantly keeps the glass moving, blows, and repeats until the artist has a complete piece of work (see the process here).

Writing and publishing a book works much the same way. The process takes hours and hours (which adds up to months and months—or years!) as the author forms the idea, adds characters, writes, edits, and repeats until the author has a complete piece of work.

Glassblowing and publishing a book both take a long time from beginning to end, but if neither started their slow progress toward the end product, they never would be able to hold their artwork in their hands.

Remember that when you think that the only 10 minutes you have to spare in a day is “not enough” to edit your book. Sure, you can spend those 10 minutes dreaming of the day when you could have a few hours each day to write and edit, but then you look up and months have gone by with no progress instead of those 10 minutes a day adding up to several hours.

Action Steps

  1. Evaluate your daily schedule and find where you can spare 10 minutes to work on writing or editing your novel.

  2. Take advantage of those opportunities to make slow progress, which is still progress.

(P.S.: This blog post was written in the 10-15 minutes I had to spare in the morning before my day got busy. If I hadn’t seized that opportunity, this still wouldn’t be written. This method really works.)


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Editing Tip #3: Editing Begins After Coffee

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OK, so this isn’t exactly a “must-do” tip, but for most of us, it is probably necessary to drink some coffee first (or tea). Not to mention it just tastes delicious!

But a tip that is important and shouldn’t be ignored is self-care. Writing and editing a book isn’t running a marathon, but it does take a physical toll on our bodies, often even more so that we realize.

You may have heard of writers who suffer from severe back pain or carpal tunnel and other issues that stem from sitting for hours every day. However, these things can often be avoided if we do the proper exercises and stretches to keep our body loose and healthy.

Eating healthy and staying hydrated are also important to keep our bodies in shape and our minds sharp. Drinking 64 oz of water a day is the recommended minimum, and most of us don’t come close to that. I started tracking my steps and water in my FitBit app to make sure I’m taking care of myself.

Remember to not sit for more than 30 minutes at a time. Get up, stretch, walk around the house, office, or coffee shop a little bit, and then come back to your writing and editing.

Self-care can also be treating yourself for a job well-done. Just completed writing your first draft? Celebrate with a trip to the spa, a trail walk, or something else that would be special and rewarding for you. Make this writing journey fun!

Action Steps:

  1. Implement exercising and stretching into your weekly routine.

  2. Stay hydrated, and try drinking at least 64 oz a day.

  3. Reward yourself after you hit your goals.


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Editing Tip #2: Keep Punctuation Simple

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I am so excited about this tip!! I just love punctuation!!! Don’t you??!!

Did you read that paragraph and the thoughts “amateur” or “overkill” come to mind? They should have because that is what editors, agents, and publishing houses will think if they find that amount of punctuation in your manuscript.

We all know the basics of punctuation rules, yet sometimes there is an urge to show your character’s excitement or anger with more than one exclamation point. Many beginning writers think it is necessary to truly convey the character’s feelings or the urgency of what is being said, but the result is one that will turn off not only editors but also readers.

Instead of showing a character’s anger with three exclamation points, show your character clenching his fists, throwing a punch, or using snarky dialogue toward people, whether they deserve it or not.

To show your character is shocked by a statement, end their question with only one question mark and show their wide eyes, have them gasp, feel faint and need to sit down, or any other reaction that is unique to your character.

Keep your punctuation simple. Don’t underestimate the power of your character’s words and actions, and don’t underestimate your need for both.

Action Steps:

  1. Search for repeated punctuation marks in your manuscript using the find and replace feature and simply them to one.

  2. Strengthen your dialogue with words that convey emotion (without stating the name of the emotion).

  3. Include the actions of your character that would express his/her and the reactions of those around him/her.


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Editing Tip #1: Start Somewhere. Start Now.

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So many of us get paralyzed by fear, perfectionism, the need to plan, or so many other “reasons” that we shouldn’t start editing our book. But as long as you hold on to one or more of these things, you will never start, so you will never finish.

Make the decision to start editing today. You don’t need to worry about not being a good editor or not getting everything perfect. Just start.

Just like your writing gets better the more you write, your editing will get better the more you edit. Practice what you already know, and then make a point to learn more about editing so that you can craft the best book that you can for yourself and your readers.

Action Steps:

  1. Begin by reading through your book from beginning to end. You will find things that are missing, could be improved, or need some additions if you can read through your book in a couple of sittings. Then you can make the necessary revisions.

  2. If you want to learn more about how to edit your novel, head on over to our articles for more in-depth editing tips or download your free self-editing checklist.

  3. And if you’d like even more reading options, check out these books:

Bestselling author and writing teacher James Scott Bell details revision and self-editing for authors in easy-to-understand ways that will help edit your novel.

Though not a book on revision, James Scott Bell will teach you how to heighten the conflict of your novel, and you will learn plenty that you can apply to your draft even now.


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