How to Edit Half a Novel in 2.5 Days

I've been struggling. I hadn't edited or worked on my novel, or submitted any short stories for 6 weeks. So I did what anyone would do. I set a deadline. I decided I want this novel finished, polished and sent out on its merry little way by October this year. Why October? Well, my novel-writing deadlines are becoming something of a tradition - you see, this is the second time I've raced to finish a book before I have a baby. I'm pregnant  - I wouldn't necessarily cite it as an ideal way to get your book written, but it seems to work for me. My first novel was finished a few weeks before I gave birth to my son - and this one was started a few weeks after he was born. So womb-fruit #2 is due at the end of October - and I needed a way to get back into my editing shoes, before my feet get all swollen and I can only wear flip flops. So, I went away last week to a writing retreat in Devon called Retreats for You. It's run by the wonderful journalist and writer, Deborah, and her lovely husband Bob, and is pretty close to perfect.


I went with the aim of doing as much editing of my novel as humanly possible, as I had almost half of the current draft left to do. From the moment I arrived I was plied with tea, flapjacks and welcoming chat, and settled into my little room to work... And that's what I did - (almost) procrastination-free - for the next two and a half days - I wrote, edited, stopped occasionally to eat the most amazing home-cooked food (and unfortunately had to decline the free-flowing wine), sat by the enormous fireplace and slept like a coma patient.

And due to the magic of quiet Devon countryside, good company, excellent food, endless tea, an affectionate dog, the lack of a duracell-bunny toddler, and one glorious nap, I managed to edit over 35,000 words in that time and finished the draft (I'm calling this the 4th draft, which means hopefully the next one will be the final, agent-worthy product).

One more sweep to go. I think. There are at least two chapters that still need some serious work, and some general niggles to iron out throughout, but the desperate hope is that the next draft will be quicker and easier than the last few have been. Much like my hopes for my next birth...

So - won't you raise a glass for me? For babies and finished drafts - because I can't drink for another year or so...

Posted on April 20, 2011 and filed under Editing, Projects, Writing.