My Mind’s Eye

My life these days consists of editing and little else. For about eight hours a day, I am seated at my dining room table. And although I can’t say I love the editing process (I enjoy writing more), I must admit I amenjoying it.
And here’s why. My WIP novel is really taking shape, the one I finished a first draft of in September. As I was writing, it gave me a little shiver; in short, I was in love with my book. Then I started editing, and for a while I didn’t really like anything about it. But now? I’m falling back in love.

The shiver is back.

The thing is, I can live in that world—the one where my main characters live. When I close my eyes, I see their faces, I see where they live. I see the paths they walk down, both literally and figuratively. It’s like watching a movie in my mind, and I’m the director. So now I’m tweaking the writing, moving some text, carefully choosing each word, so that when someone else reads what I’ve written, they can see what I see, live in that world.

And feel the shiver.

Do you enjoy the editing/revision process? When you write (and edit) your WIP do you see a movie in yourmind? Do you fall in and out of love with your writing like I do? Do you feel a shiver?




  1. I hope, some day, to embrace editing. Right now – as I was discussing with Tracy Hahn Burkett on Twitter – I’d much rather be given a blank page ANY day. It represents so much freedom, possibility and creativity to explore. The page with words ON it represents a jumbled mess: where to put this, what to pluck, how to rearrange that. I will say, however, I am getting better at it (and liking it more), and when you do make a major edit (like re-writing a character … ahem)… and improve the story, it does give you that shiver! So happy you’re falling in love again. And you should be :-)!

  2. Absolutely! It is a magical thing, really, seeing the movie of your story in your head. Can’t imagine how cool it is for those whose works are adapted for the big screen.

    Editing is also a great time. I love to play with the words until they work just so and improve on my technique.

    Good luck, Julia. I wish you many more shivers.

  3. Emma Pass says:

    I find the first draft stage torturous at times, so I love the editing process! There’s something incredibly satisfying about taking the bare bones of a story (which is what my first drafts are) and watching it grow, draft by draft.

    I always see my writing as a movie too. And as for falling in and out of love with it – definitely! The ‘shiver’ is all part of that. It’s a real emotional rollercoaster at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Very best of luck with your edits, Julia!

  4. I’m in exactly the same place…only I put my WIP away for several years and have just come back to it. Now I can see everything appearing in my head as I read and edit, and I love it!
    I love that shiver and recognition, and the process of moving words and tightening everything up.
    Good luck with it all!

  5. Yep, it’s like watching a movie in my head. I agree with you, Julia, the first draft is a blast to write. Not everyone thinks so, but I certainly do. Although it had it’s moments of plot chaos and confusion, they were few, and the characters and I got through them. Then the hard part of rewrites began. Still at it. But yes, it is enjoyable torture 🙂
    So glad you are being so productive, AND enjoying yourself!

  6. Okay, so you KNOW what I’m gonna say: I LOVE the editing process! I just started editing my novel after getting feedback from my writer’s group on Friday. I completely agree with you about the shiver. When I finished the draft back in December, I made the mistake of reading it all right away, and I thought it was terrible. But this month away from it, and my group’s feedback, have really helped me come back to it with fresh eyes, and I’m SO excited about where it’s headed. That’s why I love editing…it’s what gets the vision in your mind closer and closer to the one on the page.

    Good luck with your edits, Julia!

  7. Barb Riley says:

    Yes, yes, yes, and YES! *grins from ear-to-ear* It’s the drug otherwise known as creativity! Gimme gimme!

    The first draft, for me, was more like showing vs. telling—not much in the way of shivers during that process. But the second draft was magical—filled with shivery moments that woke me up in the middle of the night, whispering metaphors and tactile descriptions into my NaNo’ed-out ears. Ahh…the warm fuzzies come to mind just recalling the experience. However, as my third “yes” indicates, I’ve fallen in and out of love with my writing many times in between drafts! And those are the times when I LOVE to hear my writerly friends speak of their WIPs with such fondness. I’m SO happy for you, Julia! You are in a most wonderful place of the process right now. Send some of the shivers my way, please. 😉

  8. If they could bottle that “shiver” feeling and sell it, they’d make a fortune.
    Keep on writin’ on!

  9. Dorette says:

    Thank you for this post! Definitely love editing and revising! (What is the difference, level of or type of detail?)Find I must allow every draft to breathe. After it took me so long to finish a book I came up with this idea. To treat my readers as if they were at a very fine table. They don’t have to know everything. But they do have to enjoy it to keep on going. Have just printed out a new draft of my WIP too! Exciting times!

  10. So pleased you’re doing so well and falling in love with your book all over again – it is a lovely feeling, and yes, one that I can relate too totally. The shiver… oh yes, but like you said, it tends to come and go. The first flush of excitement at a new idea, then it can get hard in the editing process, but suddenly the work seems to blossom and that’s a wonderful feeling. Can’t wait for you to finish and hopefully have chance to read it.

  11. Julia, I had the same exact experience. I finished my first draft of BABY GRAND, then I started editing it a few months later, and I hated it. Not the story, but the writing. So I started editing and editing, and slowly I fell back in love with it. I agree. It’s a great feeling. Enjoy every moment!!

  12. Melissa, Embracing might be going too far for me… like you, I’d much rather be facing the blank page… but the plucking and rearranging is getting less painful and even enjoyable. So then again, maybe I will someday embrace! 🙂

    Karen, I’ve thought about that (dared to dream and admit it?) transition to the big screen…and wonder what it’s like if it just doesn’t match with the view in your head? I suppose we should all have those problems, huh? 🙂 For now, the shivers are just fine!

    Emma, So interesting, I’ve heard tell of people like you 😉 Seriously, though, I’m not sure I’d ever EVER love editing, but I can see how enjoyment could turn to embracing (as Melissa said!). And rollercoaster is exactly how I’d describe it, and I suppose like you I rather like the thrill of the ride!

    Lisa, Several years! I know what that feels like actually, a little, because I took a long break (several years) between starting and finishing this WIP. How wonderful that you re-read and loved it! Here’s to lots of shivers! p.s. thank you so much for your visit to my blog and for your comment!

    Cynthia, The first draft is SUCH a rush, I know we’ve talked about this before. I remember that immediate feeling after finishing that I had created perfection. HAHAHA. I can really look back and laugh at that now. I guess we’re both in the thick of it… enjoyable torture, woohoo!

  13. Natalia, Another lover of the edit — I already knew that about you — and ah-ha, something we are NOT alike in! 😀 Still, we are alike in the post-writing-reading-let-down followed by the re-shiver! Here’s to wonderful editing for both of us!

    Barb, Yes, such a huge rush of adrenaline. And I definitely have been woken up in the middle of the night, too. Very weird. Sounds like you’re a lot like me: falling in and out of love… I’m hoping I can keep the love going until the end now. And meanwhile, I’m sending some shivers your way! Hang in there!

    Nina, You are SO right. I wish I could bottle the shiver… absolutely agree, it would be a best seller! Thanks for the comment!

  14. Dorette, What a lovely way of putting it — to treat your readers like they’re at a fine table, I love that! Here’s to both of us treating our readers at that fine table! Thank you so much for your comment!

    Abi, I hope you have a chance to read it someday, too! I hope I can maintain the love through to the end now… because as you say, it does tend to come and go. And then it plays with your head, doesn’t it?

    Dina, It’s good to hear from others that they had the same experience! Like you, it’s taken a lot of time and editing to get back to the point of loving the story. Not an easy path but SO worth it! Thanks for your encouragement!

  15. Erika Marks says:

    Julia, I will admit I’m so conditioned to seeing that video of the sandbar when I brought this up;)

    Oh, I’m so excited for you! Yes, the shiver is the best. I’m going through the same here–having been editing this draft so much I can’t see it for what it is anymore, then today I arrived at my computer–shut off those darn track changes mark-ups and viola–found it again!

    As you and I have discussed, I do like the editing process, but like so many things, it can get tiresome after too long and too much. We are all cheering you on, my dear–and so looking forward to these updating posts!!

    And stay safe on that darn ice!

  16. Erika, I thought about Sandbar this morning as I was posting this — especially because (I’m not going to lie) the blogging wheels were a little rusty 🙂 I remember that you’re a happy editor, and so if you have your tiresome moments, I won’t be so hard on myself when I do! It’s so nice to know that you’re cheering me on — THANK YOU! — here’s to many shivers and successes all around!

  17. I love editing, not necessarily more than writing though. I just enjoy it. It feels…neater than writing. I recently opened a big project I had put away for awhile and most definitely got that shiver reading it again. It’s kind of overwhelming.

  18. Sara, I definitely agree that the shiver is kind of overwhelming — I felt like that yesterday. It felt good but also overwhelming, and I think that’s heightened by the next thought which is: what if no one else agrees? As for editing feeling neater than writing? Not mine!! My draft editing is an unbelievable messy process (perhaps reflective of my brain!?) with different ink-colored notes everywhere, postits, callouts, colored insertions…. whereas when I finish a draft and print it out clean — it looks beautiful and clean and lovely on the page. Here’s to overwhelming shivers!

  19. Hey sweets! yes, I totally see the movie in my mind. It usually has a sound track, too! I don’t love editing as much as I love writing new stuff, but I also don’t hate it as much as I did with my first novel…when I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing! 🙂

  20. Stephanie, So funny you would say that because I almost wrote a blog last week about needing a soundtrack for my WIP! Because thats the one thing I’m missing! I think I must be a lot like you — this is the first time I’ve edited adult fiction (I’ve written several now-drawered MG chapter books), and there’s definitely the aspect of “what the hell am I doing?” I already don’t hate it as much as when I began so I’m guessing next time will be even better!

  21. That’s wonderful, Julia! Fantastic work editing with such dedication and finding the passion again. 😀

    For me, editing has become just as much a love as the writing, but it occupies a totally different space for me. And I need to balance the two out; too much editing and I get over-saturated by my work, too much writing and I feel like I’m leaving things less than their potential! Taking a break and writing something else (even just a little bit of something bigger) makes coming back to editing feel so good and fresh. Editing after a drafting period gives me that gleeful satisfaction that I’m perfecting my labours.

    I can’t wait to hear when you’re done with the first round of edits! It’s a huge achievement, and you’re already closing in on it. 😀


  22. Becca says:

    Editing is absolutely the hardest thing for me. I feel completely lost and never know where to start, especially with something large like a novel.
    Good for you for plunging in and embracing it!

  23. Ashlee, Thanks for your kind words, encouragement and support! I love the way you look at the writing and editing as a balance — I’d love to move toward that position. Maybe I just naturally shy away from the hard work — makes my brain hurt! The writing is like pure creative release. Yes, you’ve convinced me, I’m going to work toward “gleeful satisfaction!” I love that!

    Becca, Editing is very very challenging to me — I hope I haven’t implied otherwise! Honestly, when I sat down with the first draft the first time, I DID feel completely lost!! So thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words; makes me realize I am getting closer to that “gleeful satisfaction,” as Ashlee said! p.s. Nice to see you! 🙂

  24. I love editing other people’s words, but I don’t like editing mine. After I wrote my first novel, I was pretty paralyzed by the idea of editing it (long story). But, as many have said above, coming back to it and re-learning the love of it, the “shiver” is a pretty special thing.

    Right now, I’m learning to enjoy the freedom that a first draft brings, and for a habitual self-editor, that feels pretty good.

  25. Mahesh, When you talk about the freedom of the first draft, I have to admit to a HUGE DOSE of envy. I even have the idea for my next two novels, and I am quite excited to get started on them… but I need to finish this one first, for my own personal stick-to-itivity (as my mother used to say!). I definitely have gone through periods of paralysis, so I can begin to imagine your feelins (even if I don’t know the long story…) — and I feel so lucky that my shiver came back. Someday I hope others will feel it too…
    Enjoy the freedom of the draft!

  26. Thanks Julia! I totally understand the stick-to-itivity (!) because I’ve been there many times before, too. And it’s awesome because you’ll be so raring to go when you’re done editing your current work.

    I’ll have to blog about my first novel some time!

  27. Mahesh, I’d love to read about your first novel when you blog about it! And — as you’ve implied — the new page is so freeing, but there’s a freedom in the finishing too. An incredible sense of accomplishment and exhilaration!

  28. Oh I wish I liked editing. It’s my bain, I mean bane. Maybe reading the comments on this post will rub off.

  29. Suzie, Believe me, I understand… I still have a lot (many) moments like that! I love the result of editing and I’m beginning to enjoy it more, but writing is and I suspect always will be what I love best! Hope it gets easier for you!

  30. Hi Julia! I’m so happy for you that you are “back in love!’ Maybe not so much shivering over here-more like shuddering. 🙂 I am back to writing scenes again after redoing my outline so I am sort of rewriting from scratch. The first draft helped me figure out my plot but it mostly went to the compost pile. Round 2 is much better so I am more in love with my process at this point.


  31. Hallie, I love it… shuddering, haha. Let me say, you are so WISE to have done it your way — rewriting from scratch! Part of the reason I’m really struggling with this book is that I didn’t do that. I re-hashed a lot that I’d written a long time ago then took up where I left off. It’s created some disjointed-ness which is why I’m struggling so much. Never again. As you say, you’re in love with the process, which is really what it’s all about! Perfectly stated!

  32. Chris Fries says:

    Stick with it, Julia!!! I am really looking forward to getting a chance to see the finished product.

    I LOATHE editing — I find I tend to want to completely rewrite, or bog down into minutiae:

    “He crossed the room.” Wait. Not good enough… Ho about “He walked across the room.” No, “He strode across the room.” No, “Walking, he crossed the room.” Ummm… No. “The room was crossed by him.” No — too passive. “He traversed the room.” No, no. “Moving in a walking-like manner, he motioned himself to the other side of the room that he was currently inside of.” NO! No!!! NO!!! Um, wait — Why was he in the room again???


  33. Chris, Thanks for your support and encouragement — and here’s hoping! For some reason I get the impression you don’t like editing 😉 Seriously, long time no see! Nice to see you again! Hope all’s well.

  34. Jamie says:

    “I was in love with my book.” That gave me shivers. I am jealous and admire you discipline. Awesome

  35. Jamie, Glad to give you shivers — already! Hope you’ll get more when (if!) my book is published and you have a chance to read it. Not sure I deserve your admiration, and certainly no need to be jealous, believe me I have many days I when I am far less disciplined than I should be. But the love? That stays 🙂

  36. I’m right there with you, Julia. I’m on the 4th round of edits. (This is the last before it goes out to agents.) I usually don’t mind the editing process, but there were a few weeks, when I couldn’t bare to look at the manuscript one more time. In the end, I always come back to it because I believe in it so much. It sounds like you feel the same way about yours.
    How much longer do you think the editing will take? Do you have an agent lined up?

  37. Since I haven’t finished an actual WIP, I’m not sure how much I actually enjoy the editing process. However, I admit that I’m a terrible editor of my own work. I’m one of those that thinks they’re done after one draft. When in reality, that’s just not true. I’ll be curious how I fare when I really do have to dive into an actual editing process.

  38. Jackie, You’re so close — WOOHOO!! I’m right behind you — and occasionally teetering the line between loving it and “can’t bare to look.” Still, I am so committed to it, as you are. I hope it’s another few months… and then onto the next step (no agent lined up yet, how about you?).

    Leah, I think in many ways I am like you — I’ve always been one to edit as I go and be done after one edit. And then came THIS…. seriously, it’s been a challenge to my normal way of doing things, and that’s why this is so huge for me… it is a daunting process still but getting a lot more understandable and manageable! Let me know how it goes!

  39. Julia, this is great! It sounds like you’re making a ton of progress. I much prefer the editing process to that stage where you need to get words down on a blank page. That part is always so stressful for me!

  40. Jen, I’m definitely closer than I’ve ever been to having a draft I’m happy with! It’s so interesting that the blank page is stressful for you — as I sat down this morning to face the editing, I looked longingly over at the notebook for my next WIP, one that I will not start to write until after I finish with this editing and have a good plan in place. Here’s to a good writing/editing year for both of us, whatever stage we’re in!