On Editing Hatred… but not Hatred of Editing

I’m about halfway through editing the second book in the series I’ve been working on for a few years now. And I’m finding myself in the inexplicable situation of hating the thing.

With my first book, I was surprised during the editing stages, because I found myself really loving the manuscript. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but I am very content with it overall.

Yet again I’m finding myself surprised, but with the opposite emotion: I’ve never felt so much negativity towards a novel I’ve written. Frustration, sure. Annoyance that I could have written certain things better, definitely. But not this.

And I’m not sure where it’s coming from, either.

I’m worried it is because I started reading this AMAZING series, by an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Her world-building capability is… astounding. The way she weaves physical world differences alongside cultural differences alongside language… I’m blown away. And I’m learning a lot, though I’m not quite sure how to implement it yet.

But the point is, I’m starting to see how much improvement could be done to my second book in the realm of world-building. The first book started building the world I’ve created, but because it was the first book, and I was setting up characters more-so, there was some pieces of world-building that needed to take a back-burner.

For the second book I do not have that excuse. This is where I really should pull out more intricacies of my world and hammer home some of the things I touched upon in the first. Use my characters I’ve set up so well to pull out those interesting threads, further explore the social and political commentary that I talk about so much.

Yet I feel like none of this is happening. It is too similar in feel and structure as the first; I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for, but I know it needs to be different enough to stand on its own power. And I don’t get that feeling.

I should have known better, actually; writing this book was too easy. The first in the series actually felt like work; amazing, challenging, thrilling work, but work all the same. The second book was a little more like putting scenes together until I said done. It didn’t feel like it was progressing or inducing more skillful lessons. And each book is supposed to teach you something, right?

Taking a moment to be easy on myself, however, this could all just be a reaction to immersing myself in this book for too long. I left it alone the bare minimum amount of time before editing, and I probably should have let it sit much longer (maybe until I start to pick apart how my new favorite author does things, and implement what I learn). For sure I need to take another break before I try anything extreme with this manuscript.

Have any of you felt this way about something you’ve written before? What did you do? Just leave it alone for longer? Did you have to re-write the whole thing, or were you able to save yourself some work?

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

18 responses to “On Editing Hatred… but not Hatred of Editing

  • C.S. Wilde

    Hmm kind of. I’d just try to move to another project ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • R. K. Brainerd

      That seems to be what I’m naturally doing. I started up a project I’ve been thinking about for a while, last night actually – but I’d hate to just completely leave the manuscript I’m talking about above. I’ve done it before, and left an entire series behind that I now haven’t touched in years.

      I suppose that means I just need more self-control. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Sue, the YA Author

    Ah yes, the dreaded editing hatred. Been there. Still doing it.
    It sounds like this author has inspired you- sounds it also may be showing you were you could make some changes on your current story. If it were me, I’d give myself permission to dig in. Play with new ideas. See where they take you. Maybe you’ll find a nugget that takes this story in a different direction!

    Liked by 1 person

    • R. K. Brainerd

      I’m probably stuck at the giving permission part – I’m feeling a bit burnt out and overhauling the whole thing sounds like so much work. (Whine, whine, whine, ha). You’re definitely right about it all, however. I need to find that spark that makes it fun again and start messing around – it’ll probably end up so much better that way anyway! 🙂 Thanks for the advice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sue, the YA Author

        If you’re feeling that burnt out, I might suggest you take a break and play with something new- even try a new voice. Pushing sometimes can be counter productive. So says the writer facing a major rewrite and is on her phone instead of her computer!

        Liked by 1 person

      • R. K. Brainerd

        I did randomly start a project I’ve been thinking about for a few months now randomly last night – mostly in frustration as editing my manuscript was making me miserable. It definitely made me feel better.

        Hey, it’s easier to give good advice than to follow it 😉 That’s why advice is important. It’s hard to see out of the mire when you’re in it…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sue, the YA Author

        I agree. So easy to give advice! I guess, for me, I look at my writing both as a business (setting deadlines and goals) and as a time for creativity and self expression. As I approach this next phase with my wip (an editor at a digital press liked it but wanted substantial rewrites before giving the go ahead) I have to remember to feed my creativity. Let my mind wander. Free it up sometimes to approach it fresh. That means I haven’t touched it in 2 months. But I haven’t wasted time- I’ve been studying the art of characterization, outlining scenes, letting the story expand and develop before I sit down to write. I hope you can find a way to enjoy your story again, even if it means stepping back from it for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  • goldinkdragon

    I can definitely sympathize with you. As a writer, we deal with a mixed bag of emotions when it comes to our work. I have gone through something similar with one of my own novels and it took a few revisions to become content with it, but the whole journey felt like trudging through mud. Literally. Sometimes a writer can be completely passionate and excited about their work to the point where, although it is /work/ in some aspects, it doesn’t feel like it. (I think this is the case when you are focusing on the first book of a series, then something unexplainable happens where the fireworks fizzle out – sometimes a short break is enough to recharge and focus, sometimes it’s not.) Those are stories that you would probably rate among the top favorites of your own works. Then there are the novels that you need to continuously rehash. The solution? I think it varies. I have restarted novels from scratch several times until content, whereas there was a novel that I didn’t like at first, but managed to salvage ninety percent of it and fine tune the rest. Interestingly enough, it ended up as the favorite of all my novels. My advice – read over the FIRST novel in your series again, you know, the one with the characters you fell in love with, filled with beautiful ideas – the whole reason you are going on to write a series in the first place? Put your unfinished manuscript aside for a little while, read, and get inspired all over again. That kind of motivation will keep you going, especially if you find that you need to scratch the entire manuscript. Best of luck to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • R. K. Brainerd

      This is excellent advice. You’re totally right about falling in love with the characters again… I haven’t been feeling that for the last month or so when I was finishing up, and that’s probably really tainted the whole process.

      Thank you for the luck! I appreciate your advice and comments. 🙂


    • Ellen Hawley

      That does sound like great advice. The only thing I’d add is that it sounds like your problem comes from a good source: You’ve grown as a writer. You’re asking more of yourself and expecting more of your writing. If when you do come back to the second book you’ve outgrown it, don’t be afraid to start over–from scratch if need be. Good writing is rewriting. That drives me nuts sometimes, but it’s true anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

      • R. K. Brainerd

        You’re probably right on all counts here – but yeah, it’s driving me nuts. I’m not sure how to improve what I have without a complete re-write; but I’m not sure where to begin there, either. (Boo-hoo, what a problem to have, eh?) I’ll figure it out, but for now, I think it needs to stew.

        Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    Sometimes you do just get to a stage where you hate the beast you have created! I think I’m there at the moment…. I’ve had too many problems as my manuscript is quite complex in some ways so have had to change it a lot…. but hopefully soon it will be ready and then I will be so happy to see the back of it for a while, even though I do love it. Then book 2 in the series will be on the horizon… My way to cope is to flit about a bit, write other stories but the trouble with that is you don’t finish what you are working on and get distracted. This has been one of my weaknesses. No more. I’m 100% focussed on one thing but that is so hard. Sympathies. You’ll get there just hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

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