Woken By Words #amediting

I was woken this morning by words. Not by my neighbour, although the sound of her workmen banging and drilling at 8am was enough to send sleep away. I was up well before then, the story I’m working on poking and prodding at my brain. ‘Come on!’ it said. ‘Let’s go! We need to sort out this first chapter structure and I think I know how to do it.’

I tried to ignore it, rolling over with the covers around my ears, eyes closed tight. But it was insistent, worming its way into my dozing dreams, flickers of silver and black. ‘Wake up! It’ll be fun.’

Sure. Fun.

I’m not a huge fan of editing. I know it’s necessary, I know it needs to be done over and over eleventy bajillion times before I can send a book baby out into the world, but I much prefer the fire and flow of writing. That feeling when the story just comes out, so many words gushing forth it’s hard to get them on the page. I love that. But, as is accepted lore among writers, the first draft is usually crap. Upon re-reading, a host of errors will make themselves apparent and then it’s time to get out the red pen, usually with a sigh.

And that’s where I am now. I actually quite like this first draft. There’s a lot of good in it, and the story holds up well. However, there are scenes in the wrong order and a few repetitive events that need to be either combined or excised altogether, so my brain has been working overtime to reassemble the scattered pieces into something that still holds the spontaneity of the first draft, but won’t make the reader go ‘huh?’ when they get to see the finished product.

Have I sorted it? Hmmm. Not sure. What seemed so clear at 6:30am isn’t quite so obvious now, although I have made progress. Still, it’s a good sign. It seems this story is quite keen to get out into the world and so is pushing me. I’ll go with it, for now.

How about you? Do your stories yell at you to finish them? Gently prod you awake in the middle of the night to write plot points? The life of a writer is strange indeed…

Oak and Mist, the first book in my Ambeth series, is on sale now until the end of January! Get your copy here.




22 thoughts on “Woken By Words #amediting

  1. I prefer to write first thing in the morning, but just lately, my brain has been waking up even earlier, demanding that we get up and think! If I refuse, it makes sure I cannot go back to sleep…

  2. I find the same happens with blog posts – I wake up with an idea for editing my older ones and then when I get into it it isn’t as clear as what I initially thought… Good luck – I’m sure you’ll fly through it!

  3. I have the problem at the other end of the day – just as I’m drifting off to sleep a piece of dialogue, a snippet of prose, or an idea for a great scene will suddenly arrive in exactly the right words, and if I don’t sit up, turn the light on, and write it down then and there, by morning it will have evaporated, leaving me with the knowledge that it HAD been there, but will never again be accessible.

    • Ooh yes, that’s a toughie! An argument for keeping a pen and paper next to the bed at all times 🙂 I often get something while I’m out doing something else, so I try to carry a notebook with me for those moments. But today I just had to get up and type… and I think it was worth it! I had two chapters that were just not right, but now I think I’ve fixed them 🙂

  4. I write. Then I sleep and dream about the characters. Then I get up with something else needing to be said. Other times, I sit in front of the computer screen and stare. Then I play a game of Backgammon. Then I go back to the screen again. And so on and so forth. Some days the words come. Others they don’t. It’s just my process, I suppose. 🙂

  5. Editing is always my favourite part. Not the grammar though, eeeekkk!

    All my ideas come at four in the morning as I’m trying to drift off to sleep, or when I’m out walking, miles from the nearest pen and paper. I guess I’m not alone though.


    • Hi Stephanie! Sorry for the slight delay in responding to your comment. Ooh, I’m slightly envious that you love editing so much – it’s not my favourite part of the process at all 🙂 And no, you’re not alone – the muse does tend to appear when she is ready, not always when we are.

  6. Awake at 6:30 with your inner editor already nagging you…it appears you have a superpower, Helen! It sucks that you’re being prodded at an unholy hour, but that’s actually quite inspiring for somebody who is often struck by apathy even at reasonable times! Having said that, I do have an inner voice which nags me to write something, anything, every day and it will leave me feeling angry with myself if I don’t. It works nine times out of ten!
    I understand what you mean about the fire and flow of writing, when the blank page is calling and you explode with enthusiasm on to it. Editing can be a drag, but think of how much better it will be after you force yourself to do it 🙂
    This is a really engaging post, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Thanks, Adam 🙂 It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does I have to give in, no matter how early in the morning it is. Like you, I do have to write every day, and feel strange when I don’t. Thanks so much for your comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and found something in it for you 🙂

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