In November, I'm going to a writer's conference in Boston, during which I've committed to a meeting with an agent and a 5-page manuscript critique. For this I will need, if not a polished manuscript, a fairly good start at one. Right now, I'm nowhere close.
I'd like to get my second draft finished by October 10. I have about two days per chapter for editing between now and then. Considering it took me three months to get to Chapter 3, this is a lofty goal indeed.
By next Sunday (9/19), I need to be finished editing Chapter 7.
I've settled into an editing routine that is more or less working for me. I read a chapter to get a rough idea of what I'm dealing with (i.e. how bad is it?) then I read it again, this time writing down key things that need to be edited to make the chapter makes sense and jives with the rest of the novel. Sometimes this means I add passages, sometimes it means I delete, sometimes it means I move sections to different parts of the chapter or to add it to a different chapter altogether.
Sometimes it means I just sit at my desk drooling or pulling my hair out.
It feels very much like I'm putting a puzzle together. There are all these elements that exist and now it's my job to put them together so they make a pretty picture.
I leave you with this video about editing a novel. Lara Zielin's debut novel, Donut Days, came out last month and the video is a fun take on her experiences with the road to getting published: