The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 65 – How much should you edit while writing?
Should you edit while writing?
The advice is just to write, but is that the best thing for novice authors?
How about after finishing your first trilogy or once you've hit your professional stride?
Autumn and Jesper delve into what they've been told — and the advice they've given! — to tease out the realities, when editing while you write might be a big help, and the realities of what they both do in this episode of self-reflection with some writing group horror stories thrown in!
Check out the free Ultimate Fantasy Writer's Starter Kit that Autumn mentions in the show at ultimatefantasywritersguide.com/starter-kit/.
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Read the full transcript below.
(Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
Narrator (1s): You're listening to the amwritingfantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need in literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing join to best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them. Now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt. Hello.
I am Jesper and I'm Autumn. This is episode 65 of the amwritingfantasy podcast and I think editing has sort of been a focus
Jesper (42s): because over the last few episodes with, with a, with a small detour into mapmaking last week. But uh, yeah, but for from next week onwards we're going to, uh, move the topic away from editing. But today though, we have one more episode for you, which centers on a question often asked and that is how much should I edit while I write?
Autumn (1m 9s): So it's still, it's still sort of a theme cause we've been talking about, you know, how much to read while writing. So we're still on the am writing part, but that's kind of what we're about, isn't it? Yeah,
Jesper (1m 22s): I think so. It might be, it might be in the name of the podcast.
Autumn (1m 27s): I think it might, but this will be a fun one. I, it'll be interesting to hear your take. And I, I put a lot of thought into this one and it's making me question what I usually give as advice. So I'll just leave that there. Right?
Jesper (1m 42s): Yeah. That can be good or bad. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It was some self reflection time, so that's always a good thing. Yeah, that's pretty good. So how are things on your side of the ocean? Uh, well it's, it's been pretty quiet to be honest. Um, you know, I was supposed to do some business travel last week, uh, but I've got canceled because of a Corona virus concerns.
Um, and I was also supposed to go to Cairo in three weeks from now. That also would cancel Corona virus. So, yeah, just sort of been maintaining a, you know, business hours from home. And then, uh, early in the morning hours I've been very focused on trying to get the plumbing done for our next novel.
Autumn (2m 37s): Oh, I'm so excited. I love where this plotting is going. So, um, I can't wait till we get to write it.
Jesper (2m 44s): Yeah. Only, only missing to plot out three more chapters and then the plotting is almost done after that, so it shouldn't be too long, I would say. But, uh, but I cannot, uh, who forget that we have like three courses too,
Autumn (3m 1s): this building website. Am I not happening quite as fast as we want it to? But yeah, it's always worse when you're a writer. You're always waiting to get to the writing, but there's a lot of business side of being a writer that we've got to take care of two at the moment.
Jesper (3m 19s): Yeah. Especially with all the nonfiction like author stuff that we're doing is that that takes up a lot of time, which is okay and it's fine. I like doing it as well. But uh, but I must admit, you know, once, once you've sat down and you plotted the whole thing, it feels like now I really would like to write it now. It has to wait. It has to wait.
Autumn (3m 38s): Yes. I, I felt that way when I read the first three, the outline to the first three chapters we call, I want to, okay. No we're good. Don't touch bad. So how about you then? I feel so successful because my little cabin room I've been building has walls and insulation, um, and it actually has doors and windows and we're just actually on the inside paneling and then at some built-in bookshelves and eventually, uh, as the weather warms up doing, finishing out the outside trim.
So it's almost there. I have been good and I've gone down to only a half day of building so that I can do, Oh, you know, like the amwritingfantasy work we were just talking about. I'm so far behind so I've got to catch up. But it's been good and it's exciting and it is oddly warm. I'm in Vermont, which is troubling, but it is hard to ignore one of those days where you open up the door, the window, and it's am above 20 Celsius in the high sixties Fahrenheit and it feels warm.
It feels the birds are singing and you just want to go plant a garden and you don't even need a coat. And it's just like, this is, I'm just going to go sit outside for a few minutes and yeah, life's good. That's sitting outside a little bit with my dog next to the stream that's in front of the cabin thinking this is pretty darn awesome.
Jesper (5m 5s): I'm a bit envious. You know what? It was like a, a couple of hours ago I was at the soccer practice with my son and it's, it's not, it's not warm here. It's like, what is it, like eight degrees Celsius or something like that. It's not been warm at all, but uh, but that's OK. you know, we used to that here in Denmark, but it was more like it has not, it's been clouded all day long and then like five minutes before we need to exit to go to the soccer field to go to soccer practice, it just starts pouring down.
Jesus could, I mean, right when we had to go out and started, it was just like, Oh my God. So hearing about 20 degrees Celsius, warm, nice weather. It's a bit, I can get a bit in to be honest.
Autumn (5m 53s): I'll send you a picture. Yeah. Just to make me feel real
Jesper (5m 58s): bad. Right. I live vicariously through with you, with your kids. You can live vicariously. Nice weather with threw me. All right. That's fair enough. Oh, we go on the internet with the amwritingfantasy podcast. So we have like a constant influx of riders joining the amwritingfantasy Facebook group. Yes, we do. It's amazing. It is. And I actually checked earlier today, we've had 6,200 posts and comments over the last 28 days.
What do you think about that? Three kidding. That's what it says in Facebook. Analytical. Facebook's never wrong force. Well, no, but I like that stat. I'm going to say we'd go with it. That is absolutely astounding. I mean, I know it's like I go in there and it looks like, you know, Luke are, you has just let someone in and there's already like three people lined up. I'm like, Oh my gosh, we can't keep up. This is amazing. It's wonderful. But it is such a fantastic group. Like I said, I don't even like Facebook, but I like Facebook just for the amwritingfantasy group.
It's worth it. Yeah. There, there's, there's a lot of help and advice to get in the Facebook group. For for you, a listener for and fellow authors. Uh, we do do our best to be quite strict so that we keep it clean for any like promotional stuff. And as soon as we see something we deleted and we do want people and we also kick some people out if they can. Um, so, but, but what it means is that that the Facebook group is a very healthy, helpful community of fellow fantasy authors.
So, um, I just picked out a few, like a selfie for example, asks what editing software people use and why. Mike wanted to know the titles of people's favorite fantasy books from the past. And Arthur asked for some writing advice with regards to the need of, uh, showing the reader, the protecting his family, or if you could leave that out. I just picked a random few pieces there, but as you can hear it, there was all kinds of questions in the group and they all get answers.
So if you have not joined yet to, you know, feel free to do so. Just search for amwritingfantasy in the group section of Facebook and we will let you in as soon as we see. You see those wait list of things to, yeah, well, we definitely tried to approve the people, you know, every day. But uh, it often happens that both myself and autumn and Luke ends up letting people in on the same day in like morning, noon and night, I think.
Yeah. Well, yeah. Well that is quite the breadth of topics. That's what's so neat about it is, I mean, it literally, you go in there and it covers everything. So I kind of liked that. I've seen life life questions to editing, to publishing,
Autumn (8m 56s): to formatting to cover is, uh, it's, it's kinda fun.
Jesper (9m 1s): Yeah, I think it is to be honest. Uh, it's, it's good. It's really good.
Autumn (9m 6s): Yeah, it is. And I know, I think it's a little, we've had a little bump, um, with people joining us on our ultimate fantasy writer starter kit and I think it's from the publisher, the women in publishing summit that I was just a part of. They, uh, the number one watched session was actually the writing tips panel that I was a part of. So that was kind of really, I know, total success and helping so many other authors and through that I linked people to the starter kit.
So we just had a whole bunch of people join there and one of them recently, Mary van, she left a comment of a phenomenal amount of information. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and expertise. I look forward to taking your course in the near future. So that's so nice of her to have stopped by and left a message and yeah, I'll make sure I put a link in the show notes if anyone else is interested in joining us on the starter kit, which is our, our little free video course. So if you're looking for some ideas on how to start writing so you can am start writing strong and develop your ideas, how to avoid some of those novice pitfalls that can totally keep you from ever finishing your novel and then pick up the top 10 tools to make sure you do succeed in writing.
Those are, that'll be waiting for you in the show notes.
Jesper (10m 24s): Yeah, absolutely. And uh, I think it's three videos that you're going to get there, uh, by signing up. So we're gonna email you three different videos. I think they're spaced out a bit, if I remember correctly. Autumn
Autumn (10m 35s): the way you can, that way you don't feel like you have to watch it right now. You can, you know, you've got a couple of days.
Jesper (10m 40s): Yeah. So we will email you one video at a time, uh, once you sign up and then you can watch it at, at, at your own time. Uh, so that's nice. Oh, so how much should I edit while I write? I mean, this is a bit of a tough one to be honest with. You already alluded to the fact that you had to do some thinking well when preparing you.
Autumn (11m 8s): Yeah. As I did some major self-reflection because my advice has always been, do not ever, ever edit while you write. Just don't do it just right forward until you finish that first draft. And I've said that for I don't know, I've been giving advice since 2012 so for almost eight years I guess. No. Hmm. And I realized that when it comes to living that advice, what I do is entirely different, but it's not editing full out.
But there's definitely some editing while writing. And there's a couple, to me, I have a couple of really good reasons of why I go back and edit. But what do you try to do? Um,
Jesper (11m 54s): well, I also have to say when preparing this a go, you know, when I prepared this episode on the am thought of thought about what my point of view was on this topic, uh, I also came into the preparation of this podcast episode thinking that, well, I know exactly what I think about death. Then the wire sat in there and I sort of thought a bit about it. Then I started doubting a bit, uh, to feel about no, exactly because, okay. But, but I think if we sort of, maybe it would be a good thing to, just to start off, if I've just listed out here the sort of the two opposing viewpoints.
Yeah. In reality, I don't think of this, this black and white at all. The more you think about it is, it is not. But if we just for one second, you look at it black and white. So you have two opposing viewpoints, right? So, um, so on one hand we would find the writer who believes that it's best to write your first draft as fast as possible, not passing to do any editing at all. As you write, you know, ignore all misspelled words and all that, just leave it and just, right.
Uh, and then on the other end of the spectrum, we would then find the author who believes it. It's better to take a bit more time with your first draft and you know, fixing any obvious errors or even like if you, if you come across any problems, then you can fix those as you go as well. And that's, I guess that's the two opposing positions. But the more I think about it, there really not, there's not a right or wrong way of doing this.
Uh, but I think that's what we're going to get into discussing here a bit because this is something that is often debated, you know, if you showed on the internet and what not. There was a lot of viewpoints on this kind of stuff. And, uh, I think the only thing we can do here is we can sort of look at the topic and give you some things to think about because I think this is something you have to decide for yourself what works best for you and what might work well for you is not necessarily what worked for me.
Um, I mean there was also those who are a bit like perfectionist and the, you know, you get too bogged down in editing when you're writing and you know, instead of finishing that draft, uh, you just keep perfectionism things and that's not good. Um, but on the other hand, there is also those who, you know, if you know that there's an error in the manuscript, it just drives you crazy not to fix it. So
Autumn (14m 29s): that's also a problem, right? This is a problem. It can become a total roadblock. But I think we should look at the pros and cons maybe of both approaches and then sort of the hybrid, which is probably where I am because I'm a hybrid pantser and plotters. So why wouldn't I be a hybrid editor while writing as well? I think that's just, I'm a hybrid in my life. I don't know what I'm a hybrid of, but I'm a hybrid.
Jesper (14m 53s): Uh, I think sometimes you have like a spyware on my computer or something because literally the next bullet on my list,
Autumn (14m 60s): pros and cons, we are that in tune. It doesn't matter that there's the Atlantic between us. It's, we just know it's going on. That's so weird. You're not used to this yet. It's been like three years. I guess I can still surprise me. I mean, how can you pick exactly what my next bullet point says? He's really pretty good. Oh, but yes. All right, so we're going to do pros and cons. So what's the next bullet? Are we jumping ahead or is that, are we good for this now?
Jesper (15m 32s): Yeah, let, let's just start with the pros and cons and then S C a bit. I mean, it's not that I have a lot about pros and cons. I've, I've kind of kept it a bit simple. Um, but I think maybe to start out with, I could say like the one of the pros of editing as you go is that your first draft draft is obviously more cleaner. And I would guess that it's probably also more cohesive once you're done then it would have been if you didn't edit anything.
Autumn (16m 3s): And for this one, sorry, sound fair. That sounds fair. And I was thinking what really comes to mind to me when someone edits especially extensively with every single, like say let's say chapter that's just easier instead of scenes. Um, I know a few authors who are very new and very inexperienced and they actually either find a coach or a mentor and, or just good beta readers and they're sending almost every chapter and they're really going over it and really fine tuning it and really working on character development and scenes.
And to me it seems amazingly time-consuming, but I also know that's, that might be what some people really want and need, especially for like your first novel, you're really learning. So there's something to be said about making it work that way. If that's what works for you and you really, you find someone, especially someone to bounce it off of, you're not just running around in your own head, which is, I think we're going to get to in the cons. But in the pros, if you find that mentor or a coach or whether you're paying for them or whether they're there just as a kindness of their heart, they're passing it onto you.
It's, that's not a bad way to develop a story if you're getting that help from an outside source. I think that could be really bad.
Jesper (17m 17s): Yeah. I mean, because there's, there's something to be said as well about it. All of this also depends on where you are in your writing journey. Uh, I don't remember if I shared this story before, um, on, on a, on a past podcast episode. But when I started out writing first, I actually, I found a critique partner. Um, it was, you know, somebody who was experienced in writing himself.
Um, but I only find found one person and I did that on purpose because I felt like when I was first starting out, I feel like if I'm going to start sending this stuff out to beta readers and you know, and I'm going to get whatever, 2030, 40 however many of them, but, but whatever, you know, or let's just say five then five banner readers maybe. Right. And then I would get five different types of feedback and I felt like when, when I was first starting out, I feel like I was so inserts of vulnerable place where I would be very effected if I get five different types of feedback because I w I was not experienced enough to actually say, okay, this is, this is, I ignore this stuff just doesn't matter.
This is a good point here. I'll take that point, that's good. And then delete those points. You know, I was not in a place where I was able to do that. So instead I just found, okay, I'm going to find one person that I trust. And then what I did was I actually sent him one chapter at a time, so I just wrote one chapter and send it to him. And then I got feedback and I rewrote it and I send it back to him again. And he came back, rewrote it again. And I think I did it a million times. I don't, I don't recall them, but I do that a lot of times, especially in the first three chapters I wrote, I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.
And every time he came back and said, well, this doesn't quite work and do this, and look at that. And then I rewrote it again and again and again until like, I think it took three months or something, but then at some point he said, okay, I think you're ready to start to start writing the first half of the book now. So, and then I started and I wrote half the book and then I sent that to him and he gave me some feedback. But at that point, I didn't know then that it was not a lot of rewriting there. Um, and then, uh, all of this, by the way, I should say all of this happened after I tried on my own first and I had to ditch, eh, like 50,000 words that are written.
I just did the whole thing and then I thought, okay, this is not going to work. I need help. And that was when I found that guy. Um, so, and then once I've written the first half of the book, I got a bit of feedback and I edited a bit on that and then I wrote last the last half and sent that to him. And then I was part of sort of good to go after that, but it helped a lot. Um, but that was a lot of editing as I went. But that's also because it, I think this topic does depend on where you are in your writing journey and how experienced you are.
Um, I don't think we can ignore that fact.
Autumn (20m 12s): No, and I agree. I mean, I, I think I had my manuscript pretty much done, but I did join a writer's group of writing class and that a writer's group, a creative writing class, and we kept going even after the class ended and we went chapter by chapter, everyone actually it was one of those rare groups where instead of getting like only five minutes, you, I think we went for 15 to 20. I mean you, if you're a fast enough reader or had short enough chapters, you could finish an entire chapter and we're all kind of were like, Oh, it's only one more page. Keep going.
Um, and so that really helped give feedback, especially even just hearing it. Um, it's such a difference when you're speaking in versus editing, you know, reading it so often you'd find your own edits there. So that helped me quite a lot with my first novel. And so I think that was really an invaluable experience. So I think I did have the first draft pretty much done at that point. But the course was designed that basically you wrote the next chapter for the next class and then you went over it and then you, you know, read the next chapter.
And that's what a lot of the other students that we kept going after the writer's group, you know, with the writer's group after the course ended, that's what we did. We all tried to make sure we had the next full chapter ready to go. And so that was the sort of the same thing. And that's another really great way of getting feedback. And if you do need that kick in the pants to keep writing, you had a deadline because you had to make sure you had some willing to read the next week. Yeah, that's true. I've never had any experience with writer groups myself.
Uh, but, uh, uh, I have heard some horror stories about it, especially, you know, I've heard some people who get those kinds of characters in the writing group that is really their there to critique other people's work to make themselves feel better. You know? Yeah. I've been in two different ones and the one was so bad that it's actually what inspired me to create the course of the ultimatefantasywritersguide because it was so unhelpful that I got angry and started questioning everything and looked it all up and said, okay, this is the really the way you're supposed to do it.
And the other one was really helpful and I miss them quite a lot and it was a fantastic experience. So yeah. Have on both sides of that horse. Oh, okay. But yeah. Okay. But I think all of that also touched upon the one of the cons of editing as you go. And that is of course that is going to take you longer to complete the first draft. That's just how it is. It is. It'll take you longer. And I still worry that if you don't get that outside help, if you're just rambling around in your own head, is this right? Is this wrong? Is this right?
And you find yourself especially the biggest clue. If you find yourself changing something and then changing it back and then changing it, and that's when you need help. You just gotta stop. Just stop full out, stop and look for help. If you find yourself doubting or doubting that you're good enough, writer get out of your head, get some help. Don't just keep circling your own wagons because you're just driving yourself crazy and it's not worth it. Trust me, it's not get help. But that is definitely a con while editing, if you're editing on your own while you're writing, you will just be circling your own little crazy thoughts and you'll not be writing anything productive.
You'll just be driving yourself insane. And if, if that issued and you could go and check that Stata kit that we have in the show notes, at least that'll, that'll get you started the bid and give you some, some inputs and feedback. Yes. Or, and come join us on Facebook and uh, yeah, you'll am at least have someone else to be like, how you're drowning, you know, raise your white flag and say you need help and we'll be there.
Jesper (23m 54s): Absolutely. Um, but I, I think, I mean did, this is slightly off topic, but it just popped up in my mind now that we were talking about it. But I do think it's worth pointing out as well, that when you are on your first book and you need some help, you know, if you're trying to join a writer's group or you're trying to find a critique partner or only one person like late, I did. It is your own responsibility to try to vet who you're listening to because it doesn't matter. And honestly, especially there in the beginning, if I think most writers are quite insecure in the beginning, at least I know I was as well.
Um, in terms of is my writing well in that, is this good enough that doesn't do anybody care about this stuff? Is this is nonsense. You know, all those kinds of questions, they haunt you, especially in the beginning. And if you get input from the wrong person, that could completely derail everything you're doing. So, so do, do, be quite careful about trying to understand who is this person who wants to give you input. So why I'm saying that is also because while the am writing Facebook fantasy group is great and you can join and you can ask your questions, just be careful if you're just starting out that you don't join the Facebook group and post a question and then you're going to get 15 different responses in the common fields.
So just be careful, you know that that that's, it might not be the type of help that you need when you're first starting out. So, so just think a bit about that.
Autumn (25m 25s): Yes. And that's very true cause I have to say if I wasn't stubborn, my am, I don't know what would've happened because my first writing group was the bad experience. And I think to me it really came down. I remember someone ripping me apart for using an adverb and then five minutes later they were praising someone for using the exact frickin same word. And you can hear it in my voice, I can hear it still. I still get angry, angry. But again, that is why I went home and I said, okay, they were not even the right genre.
I started saying, what do I have to do to write fantasy, how do I do this correctly for what I want to write? Because it was a multi-genre a writer's group. And yeah, if I hadn't been who I am and just got angry and I figured it out and I went and asked questions. But if I hadn't done that, if I had been a lot more sensitive and I'd been just hurt and confused and lost and overwhelmed, I don't know where I would've ended up. So yeah, be careful and be kind to yourself.
And if someone's not being kind to you kick them in the butt. But I mean that metaphorically, not physically or not okay. But yes. So definitely be kind and look for, you know, look for Donnelley kind advice, but good advice. And someone who, if you have a question like why do you say that? Why do you mean that? And they don't give you an answer, just blow him off. You know, you deserve to have a reason that you're being told this and that is very important. Yeah.
Okay. So let's move into a pro of editing. Only afterward. Oh, right. Well afterwards you got the book done. There you go. There's your pro. You actually have an entire manuscript.
Jesper (27m 10s): Yeah, that's true. Um, I mean, and you will be finished with that manuscript it quicker. Like you said before, you're like, like it's, it's the opposite of before of course. Um, but the con is then of course that it might be quite messy and you might need some time to clean it all up. And uh, yeah, so it's just like the opposite of the situation off before. So, and I know it's pretty frustrating isn't it? Because you see the more we go into this, the more clear it becomes that there is no clear answer.
Autumn (27m 42s): There is no clear answer God. Cause I mean if you have some really big plot holes in, you need to go back and fill them or what if, Oh my God, you missed something huge and really the whole thing got off track and you have to delete some stuff because you didn't stop and really think about this while you're writing. And especially if you're a pantser, this could be a huge issue. If you wait till the very end to finally start questioning is everything correct and going all right. Yeah. Sometimes waiting until the end isn't the best thing to do either. Unless you have a good outline and you really know you, you hit all the right spots so you fall it.
Yeah. Then at least maybe you have a hope that the book is in good shape. Mmm. Yeah. But what about those people who were then writing their first novel? You know, so just giving them pros and cons here, but you're giving any answers. So, but do we have any answers? What do you, what do you think? Do we have any answer about what, what would you recommend? You said, you said in the beginning that you had a clear point of view at first and now you're not sure. Sure. So yeah. Well, I arrive at maybe, I think for my advice for a first time writer, if you've never tackled a novel before, would be to join either writer's group, one that is preferably in your genre or to join.
You'll find a coach, find a mentor, someone who can help you through. And maybe do it in chunks, you know, maybe not every chapter, but give them, you know, you know, I love the seven steps of story structure given their whole intro, give him your whole inciting incident, give them some stuffs, then they can help guide you. I think, uh, for me, I took, you know, I have an English degree, but I went back and did two adult writing courses when I decided to take writing seriously. And that really I think helped lay some groundwork. Part of it, because I got so angry that I went and found different advice.
But the other one ended up being very helpful and a wonderful experience. So, you know, even me with an English degree, I went back and took a few more courses to get myself back in the flow. So I think for your first novel, if you're going to be serious about publishing, just you're going to need help, you're going to need you there chorus, you're going to need a mentor, a coach, someone to help guide you through that first book. It really helps. It will build your confidence and it'll definitely give you a better product. Hmm.
No. Okay, good. Whew. Don't, we're in agreement. Oh, that is so weird. A surprise. But now you know, as a, you know how many books? 1617 I've got done. No, I do tend to edit a least a little bit as I write, but it's not like grammatical, I don't worry about punctuation, but there are times, um, the books doesn't feel like it's flowing. It just, it feels like I've hit a wall, basically a writer's block and I, again, I'm a hybrid pants or plot or I have an outline.
I know where the story's going, but there's some looseness in the each chapter. And often when I hit that, it's because I hit a plot hole and there's just something in my mind that saying, Hey, Hey, you miss something and I've got to change perspective. I've got to think about it a little bit, do some brainstorming. And usually I figure it out and then it goes boom. And I'm writing really fast again. So I do go back and there have been times when I have like, Holy crap, I missed that and I've got to go back and add a chapter and I keep telling myself I can do it later. I know what's going to happen and it's no, I got to go fix it now.
I've got to go fix that character. I've got to go throw in sometimes a foreshadowing way, you know, go put that back in there now just so I don't forget, just so I can get it out of my mind and on the paper. So nowadays I do sometimes edit while I'm going because if it's a big element, if it's a plot element, if it's a character issue, I need to fix it before I go forward. Otherwise I can't go forward as well as I'd like to. Hmm.
Jesper (31m 35s): That's fair enough. Uh, I think that there's, you know, these different tiers in it, right? So you just explained, you know, the, if you only just first starting out and I agree with what you said there and then of course there is this, the stuff about when, when you have written a lot of books in light like, like you and then there was the, I think there was also a point for those people who just write, maybe wrote written like two or three novels or something because I think at that point, um, it is good to just keep in mind to get into the habit of finishing things because you need that habit going forward that, that once you start something, you also finish it.
It's not like, you know, the first novel might take you quite a long time. I mean for some people it takes years. You might be working with this critique partner or whatever you do where you take a writing course or something, but it'll take a while because you need to redo a lot of things many times too to find the right stride there. But once you do, well, let's say you get into book three union, you get into book two or three, I should say, then you probably have a lot better grasp about how do I construct a story and how do I make the story work.
Um, and there I think it becomes important that you get out of the habit you had with the first book where it took you forever because you kept redoing and re questioning and updating or whatever you want to call editing. Um, and then start learning yourself that, okay, it's, you know, it's okay if I need to fix some of the Pluff holes here and there, I guess, but I also need to get to the finish line and it cannot take me forever with book two and book three because if you want, I mean, if you're just writing for fun, that's fine.
But if you, if you want to earn money from it, you also have to put up some products. You know, you can spend three years writing every novel. No, I think your readers, especially in today's day and age where there, you know, I remember when I first started out, one book a year was okay, but there's a lot of readers looking for more than that now. And yeah, you can't take, you know, if he can get one done in six months, it's much better than waiting two years. Yeah. And I really, I struggled a lot with this am because when I got into book two and book three, um, I had a lot of problems, not editing as I went.
Uh, you know, I, I often found myself editing something like, well, not like structural or plot edits because I outline in quite detailed as, you know, autumn the details. I do Paul first book here, this is very detailed. It's like almost once I'm done with the outline, you can just fill in the blanks and the novel novel or most definitely. It's impressive. It's like, I know what's going to happen and it's very exciting. But yeah, it's, it's not much more to get that actually done as a book.
Yeah. You just need to describe the scenery and a bit, not even emotions because all the emotional stuff. So usually in the outline as well. So I know I'm an, I'm an outlier on this stuff as well. I know, so I'm not trying to advocate to the listener that you should outline in this level of detail, but why I'm saying it is just because once I have my outline and if you have a less detailed outline is perfectly fine as well. But what I'm just saying is that I don't have any plot holes because I outline and if you do the outline correctly, you shouldn't have any really glaring plot holes either.
So what I was more referring to was that when I, when I was on like book two and three, I was just doing a lot of the copy editing stuff. You know, I spend too much time making the sentences sounds just a little bit better or just correcting this and that, a even typo sometimes and stuff like that. And it was just like, it, it annoyed me. It annoyed me a lot that I spent so much time on it. Um, because I wanted to, I wanted everything to go quicker, but at the same time I felt like I, I just can't scroll past this stuff because it sucks.
You know, I too, I did to correct it. So I kept correcting it, but it wasn't until I got into dictation that that problem was fixed because as soon as I started dictating, now, you know, nowadays I just dictate a chapter 10 transcribe it into the computer and then I do a quick search and replace for all the fantasy words. So, you know, we talked about how I use dictation back in episode 59, so go back and listen to that one if you're curious. But I just do that very quick steps in replace of the fantasy words and then I just move on to dictate the next chapter.
So, because I'm not typing the words on the screen and I see the, you know, the errors there on the screen while I write, I just, I'm able to ignore the fact that, do you know these kind of, uh, well, it's just sentences as I speak when it comes out. So it needs to very much tidying up in the editing, but it doesn't bother me when I can't see it as I type it. So yeah, dictation just fixed that hit entire problem.
Autumn (36m 40s): That's really good. That's, and that is an interesting one that we didn't come up with and we were talking about dictation cause we weren't thinking about editing at the time, but that does make a lot of sense. And that's why I was actually having problems with dictation is because I, I couldn't get what you have having a Mac. I couldn't get the dragon software to then upload it and all those other fancy things. So that I, I was seeing as I'm doing something else, I was seeing what I was saying and it was horrifying because it wasn't as as smart and as well adapted to my speech pattern and punctuation and everything else.
So for me it was like, yeah, I just need to, you need to not see what it's doing because if you do you want to go fix it. And I was like, that's it. I'm going to type because I at least can put in the period where I want the period and it doesn't think I said period and Oh it's just horrible. So, but that is, it is a true, I mean I think that is definitely one of the types of editing you shouldn't do until you're done. And even then, I mean always do your content edit before you start even getting into the grammatical and the better language and all those other things you need.
There's us of other edits that happen before you get to worrying about if that commas in the right place. So those are the ones you have to be able to let go on unless you, unless you plot in much less detail as I do it. And there's nothing called a content edit. Your content edit is actually before you write this book. It's in the plot. Yeah, it's in the plot. We've been content editing before we even get to uh, writings. So it's kind of a reverse way of doing it.
Jesper (38m 19s): Yeah, I guess you could say, but it is sort of just depends on in which face you invest. The time, right? Because you can rush through a first draft and get it done really quickly and then spend two months content editing and fixing and going back and forth and fixing chapter 10 Oh wait, then chapter seven is incorrect and I need to update that. Or you can like me, I'm, I take like not full time of course, but I probably, it probably takes me like a month to plot a novel. I think I spent like a month on this book. One thing I found out incorrect. I think that's about right.
Autumn (38m 49s): And of course you've been waiting for me a couple of times to come back and read through and make some changes so it slows you down a little bit, but not much. He usually gives me a pretty tight deadline, so we've kept it moving pretty good. You don't make me sound horrible. It's not. It's been very exciting. So it's been fun, but definitely a different way of doing it. And I have to admit there's times am it was the story I'm working on right now that there's like, I, I should probably have done a little bit more plotting. I love knowing what happens next.
So that's kind of exciting. But I have not gone off my hybrid ways too deeply yet. No,
Jesper (39m 26s): but it, but it is a, as we just said, right? It depends on where you invest your time and uh, that's basically up to you and that's why you need to find your own way through this. But one thing I did find that it was quite interesting when I was preparing for today's episode, uh, I found some psychologists who were talking about multitasking. So, because basically when we're talking about editing while you're writing, you know, it is two different parts of the brain you're using because one part is for creation, you're being the creative writer.
And the other thing is about editing where, where basically you're being critical. So you're, you're applying your analytic mindset and being critical about what's written. And when you're switching back and forth like that, then you're basically multitasking. And these psychologists were saying that true multitasking is in fact impossible. So the best thing you can do as a human being is that you are able to be as good as switching back and forth between the tasks as quickly as possible, that that's what you could, you could sort of be good at that.
That's, I guess that's when, I mean all of this might be semantics, but I think that's basically what people mean when they say multitasking. But what the psychologist said, and this is the point of all this rambling here, what they said was that when you're multitasking, you're not being effective. So you're basically slower at what you're doing. Then if you were just focusing on one thing. So again, I'm not saying one thing is better than the other, but I do think it's valuable to just think a bit about the fact that the more you edit it while you go, the less effective you are with your time.
Autumn (41m 9s): that makes sense. And I mean, I know there's, at my height I was writing a book while editing another book and you're right, you even then, Hey, I'm insane. I highly admit that. But it worked really well because of my, like I think I would edit usually first, which cause I was sitting down and getting into my writing routine. I was kind of in an analytical, you know, was coming off of work, which I've a very scientific job at the time. So I would have that kind of mindset and you do that for half an hour and then I would kind of get into the creative like, you know, you start getting excited about words and language and where the story is going and the next thing you know, then I'd write for an hour and again, they were separate and it was kind of gearing one up for the other.
If my brain was awake enough to be analytical, it was good at editing. If I was, you know, and more creative mindset, you, you kind of have the juices flowing. You got to have that drive and inspiration. And if it wasn't there, you had to try to manufacturer it basically. But they are definitely two different types of mindsets. And I would know they didn't mesh. You had to do one than the other nuts. You couldn't do both at the same time.
Jesper (42m 22s): No, and I mean it's, it's not about editing Sur writing but, but in general, at least I, I also feel like I, there's a limit to how much creative stuff I can do in a day. And I usually I have to start out doing the creative stuff early in the day because late in the day my mind is just like, I can force myself to do creative work, but it's not as good as when I'm more awake for a lot of bag of bed in the morning, you know, are they in the morning? I am good at the creative stuff. I can, but I can only do a couple of hours then I'm sort of out of my creative juices and then I need to default to some marketing or publishing work that I can Maul do without thinking much about it.
I mean, I've been doing that kind of, you know, the business stuff I've been doing for so many years that I can do, that's kind of thing without having to spend too much energy on it. So I can do that if I'm tired. But creative stuff like plotting for example, that's also why it takes a month. Because if I could plot eight hours a day, that would be a different matter. But even if I have the time to do that eight hours a day, which I don't, but if I have, then I don't think I would be able to because I would run out of steam.
Autumn (43m 32s): My, well, that makes sense. And I mean I took a leadership course and we plotted our, not just energy level, but what we were good at doing during the course of a day and creative in the morning and analytical in the afternoon is actually a very typical type of situation. So that makes sense.
Jesper (43m 48s): Yeah, indeed. So I guess all we can say share that. Uh, we shared some inputs and things to think about and uh, you need to make up your own mind.
Autumn (44m 1s): Yeah. And I think though, there's some pretty good take-home advice that if you're a new writer, probably try to find some outside help and maybe get some editing, you know, go by chapters or chunks of your book and get feedback. But once you get past two book, two or three, try to just get it done without worrying about editing. Get, get yourself used to finishing a novel, finish that first trilogy. That's a good thing. That should be your goal. And once you get beyond that, you know, might start, you know, making sure you get the plotting.
You might go back and edit a little bit as you go because, well, let's just, you know, you'll finish. You just know you have to get it right and it'll be a little bit better when you get to the end. That's my take home message.
Narrator (44m 44s): All right, so next Monday I have one of, if not the biggest name in the indie author community on for an interview because I'm going to talk to Joanna Penn next week. If you like what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the amwritingfantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join autumn and Jesper on patrion.com/amwritingfantasy for as little as a dollar a month.
You'll get awesome rewards and keep the amwritingfantasy podcast going. Stay safe out there and see you next Monday.
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 143 – Tips on Book Marketing to Different Generations
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 142 – What to do Every Day to Become a Better Writer
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 141 –Top 10 WORST Powers to Have
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 140 – How to Get a Literary Agent for Your Book (with Jane Friedman)
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 139 – Does Race & Gender REALLY Matter in Fantasy?
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 138 – Book Pre sales vs Pre orders
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 137 – How to Maintain Your Story's Flow
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 136 – Top 10 Worst Characters EVER!
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 135 – How Beta Readers Improve Your Writing—with Pam Burleson & Paul Kilpatrick
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 134 – A Bit About Our Writing—Listener Q&A!
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 133 – Tips on How to Write Fiction Well
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 132 – Top 10 WORST People to Ever Teach Magic
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 131 – Jeff Wheeler on Amazon as a Publisher and Writing Fantasy
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 130 – What is the Emotional Plot?
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 129 – Our Favorite Book Sales Tracker and Why You Need One
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 128 – Top 10 Reasons Why Your Character Will HATE You
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 127 – What Fantasy Readers are Looking For—with Damon Courtney
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 126 – Magic Systems Explained
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 125 – What is Deep POV and How Can it Help Your Story?
The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 124 – Will Social Media Actually Help to Sell Books?
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