The Editing Process. Finding What Works for You By Chloe Adler

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Chloe Adler as she shares with us “The Editing Process. Finding What Works for You.” Enjoy!


I’m probably the last person who should write about this as I struggle more with editing than any other part of the writing process. Give me a blank page and I can fill it with words. Give me a character and the story practically writes itself.

When it comes to sitting down, rereading and actually editing my own words I am, quite literally, like a lizard on a hot summer day.

There’s plenty of advice out there but it’s not advice that works for me.

In analyzing what works for me I came up with several things to share.

  1. Passes – Currently I’m going through my editor’s developmental edit and the changes called for are huge, overwhelmingly so. On first pass I change the easy stuff, like filter words and the other edits that don’t feel difficult or complicated.
  2. Smaller Chunks – I split the entire manuscript up into a certain amount of scenes per day in order to meet my deadline. For example, I have 59 scenes and need to get it done in 14 days = 4-5 scenes per day which seems feasible. Until I get to them! The problem is that some scenes are easier than others. Some have 1 or 2 changes and others have 10 or 12 changes. The ones at the beginning and end have more changes.

The other day I worked on a scene I’d been putting off. I corrected everything except for one element weeks ago, but when I set to work on the one remaining element it took me 3 hours and I’m still not done! This is not sustainable.

The other night after a full day devoted to editing I realized I had achieved very little.

  1. Fresh Eyes – When I’ve approached a change that bogged me down one day on a different day,I’m often able to complete it in no time. Do as much as you can on one element and if you can’t complete it or if it feels overwhelming, move on. I’ve started from the back instead of the front, and this works for several scenes.
  2. Sprints – Overwhelmed? Take a break. I recommend 20-30 minute editing sprints. Then a break. Get up and move! Jump up and down, dance, do a wall handstand. Then go back to it.
  3. Rewards – If you get through one scene, you can have that cup of hot chocolate or play with the cat or go outside and sit in the sun for 10 minutes. Whatever floats your vessel.

The other thing I’ve learned about my personal process is that while I can write any time of the day and pretty much anywhere (including sitting in my car)
– the same does NOT go for editing.

Editing flows best for me in the mornings. I hate admitting this. I am not a morning person. But after a long day at either my day job or writing or working out the last thing my mind wants to do is figure out a puzzle, which is what I liken editing to.

Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to experiment as long as you have the time to do so.

Keep track on a spreadsheet or in word or an app or in your head. Know your limitations.

I found out the hard way that I cannot write a new book and edit the previous one on the same day.

To find what works for you, you have to be willing to fail. Failure is not a bad word. It’s a learning experience, a challenge, a lesson and permission to grow.



Chloe AdlerFor the past undisclosed amount of years, Chloe Adler has thoroughly bucked the system. She lives in foggy Northern California with her dead fish Larry and a bouncy bunny rabbit named Fred. After selling her rock collection she amassed enough money to buy and move into a small motor home where she developed a strange fondness for striped socks.

Prior to her infamous writing career Chloe was an overachiever, amassing a slew of unimpressive letters after her name. The trouble is that the five people who know what the letters mean, don’t really care.

When she’s not writing, she can be found picking trash up off the beaches, offering rides to the homeless and roasting her own coffee beans.

Chloe is nearing completion of her first paranormal romance series, Distant Edge, which is a genre mishmash guaranteed to rotate heads. If you sign up for her newsletter, not only will you find out when they are released, you’ll also make her jump up and down with joy for at least 3.5 seconds. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Connect with Chloe Adler here:
Twitter: @ChloeAdlerWrite

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  • Hugh Tipping says:

    I don’t believe in the word “failure” for writing. 🙂 I prefer to think of it as experiments that didn’t work. I’ve been working on my own editing process for some time and am finally settling into a groove right now.

    I definitely believe in the multiple passes. The first pass to take care of obvious annoyances helps me eliminate them as distractions.

    I then take a pass through scene by scene noting the major flaws in each. Then I go back and start working on the flaws. It’s an evolution.

    I try to wait for the reward to the end of the day. That way I get more done. And having gentle goals set out for a day/week/month definitely helps.

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