How to keep up momentum in the editing stage

An interesting question came up at a recent London Writers’ Meetup about keeping up your momentum during the editing stage, so I thought I’d share my answer with you today.

Tim’s Question
How do I keep up momentum when I get to the editing stage? When I’m writing my draft, I can set myself a daily target of say 1000 words per day, sit down and get on with it. I have a clear goal. But now I’m in the editing stage, I frequently procrastinate. Is there anything I can do to stop myself procrastinating and get on with the writing?

My Answer
It’s so easy to get demoralised when we move into the editing phase. Sometimes when we procrastinate it can be down to a couple of different things. We might be feeling overwhelmed with the size of the task at hand – editing can feel infinite. It’s so big that we don’t know where to start. Alternatively, we may not know exactly what to do next; we might have a vague idea – ‘general editing’ – but not know the exact next step.  That vagueness stops us from getting on with it.

In either case, I would recommend breaking your daily work down into small, bite sized chunks. Then, at the start of each day, write down in your notebook or on a post-it your task for the day. For example: today, from 10am till 11am I’m going to edit pages 1-5 – or however you want to break it down.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos

When sitting down to write, it helps our brains if we’re really specific about what we need to do. And if we break it down into small, clear chunks, we feel less overwhelmed too. Also, I’m ‘old school’, so I think the act of writing your task down on a piece of paper is really helpful. Firstly, putting pen to paper helps to fix the plan in your mind. And secondly, when it’s there in your notebook, on your desk, you can glance at it from time to time and keep reminding yourself about what it is you’re doing.

So, how might you break down an editing task?

You could aim for a certain number of pages per day, especially if you’re at the polishing stage. However, if you’ve received feedback and have multiple things to work on, start by making a list of all the different areas you need to review. You can’t do everything at once, so break it down, section by section.

For example, let’s say you need to work on your main character – you could start your day by writing in your notebook – today from 10am-11am I will go through scene 1, analysing my main character, and making sure that she is acting strong and in control, or whatever.

Breaking the editing task down into something small, specific and concrete will make it feel more manageable and less stressful.

Another quick tip

Make sure you start your writing session by actually writing! Sounds obvious, but it can be so easy to start with other, less important admin tasks – emails, phone calls, online research – which can wear you out, leaving less energy for the actual creative stuff, which is surprisingly demanding. So, try to be disciplined. And put your admin tasks on a separate list and fit them in after your daily writing is done.  

If you’re still procrastinating after all this, perhaps you’re a bit bored. In which case, think about ways to shake up your routine. Maybe try writing with pen and paper, if you usually use a computer. Change rooms. Sit on the floor. Join a ‘Write Together’ Meetup group (or similar). Work with a writing buddy to help you feel less lonely. Try some writing exercises to get your creative juices flowing. Or do some brainstorming, if you’re feeling stuck with your plot. 

I hope that helps. Do let me know how you get on if you’re struggling with something similar. If there’s something else in your writing that you’re struggling with, get in touch as I might be able to answer it in a future post. You can also just say hi – or give me some feedback or share a tip – I’d love to hear from you! 

By the way, the London Writers’ Meetup takes place on zoom the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Do join us. It’s a great opportunity to connect with other writers, share writing resources, ask a question, be held accountable or just chat about your work. It’s friendly, informal and open to writers of all disciplines and any level of experience.

Thanks so much for reading! If you’re new to my blog, I’m Katy Segrove – animation writer, children’s author, writing coach and mum to cheeky 2-year old Otto. 

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