Editing ambivalence

This month’s series will be on creating sympathetic characters! But that’s for tomorrow.

I love editing. I love eradicating errors (where did all those typos come from?!); I love finding better, more vivid ways to say things; I love rewriting scenes on the whim of inspiration for something that is much, much better.

On the other hand, I hate editing. I hate slogging through my book for the third fifth eighth time only to discover that it’s still not perfect; I hate feeling that I don’t know whether this latest change is any better than the last three versions of this sentence; I hate getting directly contradictory opinions over something I’m torn about myself.

This is the definition of ambivalence. (Go ahead, look it up—ambivalence means feeling strongly both ways about something, although the common misusage has naturally bullied its way in to many a dictionary. Ambi in Latin means ‘both’—like ambidextrous—and valence comes from the Latin verb meaning ‘to be strong’—the same root as valiant, for example.)

These days, however, my scale is starting to tip towards hate more and more. I think I’m burning out on my latest round of revisions. This will be my third round in two months, so I suppose fatigue is only understandable. But I haven’t written anything new in almost as long (aside from new/rewritten scenes), and that’s something that I really need to do.

Unfortunately, none of my many ideas is screaming “write me now!!!” at the moment. But rather than run myself ragged on revisions, I think I’m going to try to start on another book—just the first three chapters. The big risk here is that if my idea isn’t really ready, writing is like wringing blood from a stone—it’s just as tiring as another round of revisions.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with editing? How do you avoid editing burn out?

Photo credit—Book heart: Piotr Bizior; screaming: ralaenin

One thought on “Editing ambivalence”

  1. I love editing, much more than drafting. I’m a reviser at heart. It’s exciting to see a story getting better and better, and I like working with something that’s already written, as opposed to trying to fill a blank screen.

Comments are closed.