Edit Head vs. Writer Head; or, Shifting Gears

(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)

One thing that I’ve discovered about myself is that it’s very difficult for me to be editing one piece while writing another. I think it’s because when I’m writing, I have to work so very hard to keep my inner editor leashed that when I finally let her out she wants to edit everything in sight. {sigh, yes, including this blog entry…}

I’ve been in “edit-head”, as I call it, for the past couple of months, trying to trim some of the fat from a Regency romance I wrote a couple of years ago. The good news is that I snipped out about 42,000 words, which is a significant accomplishment. The bad news is that the story still stands at about 189,000 words — which is, unfortunately, about 89,000 words too many for a historical romance. However, I’m told by someone who has read both versions that the new version is much improved. That’s encouraging. Now if only I could find a publisher or agent who thinks a 750 page romance novel would work!

The past few weeks, however, I’ve been desperately trying to switch back to “writer head” so I can get to work on my summer writing challenge. So far, I’ve only had limited success, especially since my summer challenge involves writing short stories. It’s much easier when I’m writing a novel to tell myself that I can wait until I’ve finished to go back and reread and start making changes. But when my current work-in-progress is only about twelve pages long, it’s hard not to go back and tweak and tighten and question every single word. And that makes it hard to get more writing done.

To make matters more complicated, I’d really like to dive in and give my latest novel, The Daughters of August Winterbourne, a first edit before November rolls around and I get to work on the sequel. And I’m going to want to start on that before the end of summer. Which means I’ll probably be trying to write and edit at the same time. I’m not entirely certain my head won’t explode.

Incidentally (and perhaps not too surprisingly), moving from writer-head to edit-head usually isn’t that much of a challenge. It’s just going back that gives me fits.

So does anyone else have problems switching between editing and writing (or vice-versa)? What strategies (if any) have you developed to make it easier to shift gears?

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About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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