Get Off Your Butt and Edit That Thing!

By guest blogger Lois Eighmy

I AM A storyteller. Telling stories is what I do, and I love it. I love creating characters and watching how they grow and interact with each other. I rejoice at their successes, and sympathize when they fall. I write all the time as if I’m living life through them . . . but I have a serious problem.

All of my stories are in first-draft form. They range from action/adventures about young Cherokee and Mi’kmaq males going through emotional roller coasters to vampire stories involving sexy and very conflicted bloodsuckers to Westerns about half-breed Cherokee brothers. I’ve written two complete screenplays. I’ve written romance stories, ghost stories, and steamy thrillers.

I’ve begun planning even more stories, one of which is a series based on Will Scarlet of Robin Hood fame. I have characters galore, and they range from all-American to Japanese to Hindi to Cherokee to . . . well, you get the idea. I’ve been busy!

But I’ve yet to get past the rough-draft stage. No sooner do I finish the first draft of a story than I’m rushing off to plan the next. I keep telling myself I’ll edit after I finish the story that’s screaming to be written, but I never follow through. Why is that?

I suppose it’s because I feel I don’t have the know-how to edit my own work. I have books that tell me how, but when I sit down to read them, my eyes glaze over as if I’m reading something in Russian or Mandarin or Latin. When I think about revising my stories, I feel overwhelmed by all the work involved—work that I feel I’m completely unqualified for.

But if I can write all these rough drafts without any anxiety whatsoever, why can’t I edit and revise my work? I suppose it comes down to how badly I really want to get my stories out there. How badly do I want to polish my stories for others to read? Do I really want people to read and be touched by them?

The answer to that last question is an emphatic yes! But when I ask myself how badly I want it, my mind goes blank. It’s as if there’s something blocking the way to success. Something deep inside feels like I’m not good enough to warrant being successful at what I love to do—like, it’s so much fun how can it be worth the extra effort it takes to make it just right? Writing doesn’t feel like work to me. How can I make a career out of something that feels so much like a game?

But when I get right down to it—when I’m honest with myself—it’s not the fact that it’s fun that’s the problem. It’s the fact that I don’t want to do the hard stuff. I’m lazy, and I don’t want to polish my work. I just want to write first drafts and feel the excitement as the story flows from my heart to the computer screen.

If I really, truly want to get my stories out there, I need to work at it. I need to make them shine like the stars they’re meant to be, but I can’t do that if I’m afraid of a little bit of hard work. I have the tools. I just need to put them to good use.

So, I’m making this vow right here and now: before the end of 2011, I will rewrite my first screenplay at least once. And when that’s done, I’ll go over it and revise it a second time, and then a third.

I will revise and edit as many times as it takes, because my story means something to me, and I want the world to know it. I want the world to experience it. And I want to be able to say that I did it—in spite of my laziness, and my desire to move onto the next story. I want to be able to look at my stories and be proud of them. I’ll never have that feeling if I don’t do the work it takes to make them shine.

One day soon my stories will shine and I’ll be able to say, “I wrote that. I revised it. I turned it into the star it deserves to be!”


Lois Eighmy

LOIS EIGHMY is a stay-at-home wife, artist, crafter, and blogger. Her art cards can be ordered as personalized greeting cards. She also writes screenplays, short stories and novels and hopes to have them published one day soon. Lois lives in Arkansas with her husband, Jeff, her white calico cat, Chloe, and her brindle mutt girlie girl, Nikita. Lois dreams of moving back to Maine, the land of her childhood.

4 Responses to Get Off Your Butt and Edit That Thing!
  1. Lois
    September 30, 2011 | 5:47 PM

    I plan to do my first read through on Monday. I can’t wait! 😀

  2. Tricia
    Twitter: Tricia_Sutton
    October 1, 2011 | 11:16 AM

    The important thing is you got the story down that was in your head. That feeling of accomplishment of having taken the (in my world) hardest step.

    I say follow your drive. Write it while they are there. Don’t ignore them. Later, when nothing is screaming for your attention, you’ll have a whole library of stories to chose for edit.

  3. Lisa Carter
    October 3, 2011 | 9:55 AM

    This was such a great post! I’m convinced just by the writing in it that I would *love* to read your stories. So get busy editing, will you?! 😉
    Seriously, though, editing is the hard part and I understand avoiding it. But your stories deserve it, so good luck with this revision of your screenplay!
    Personally, where I fall down is submitting… I’ll follow your lead and vow to submit at least 3 articles/essays to publications by the end of 2011. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. j
    October 4, 2011 | 11:16 AM

    I’ve often heard it said (and found it true) that writers fall into two camps: the ones that love the revision stage and the ones that can’t stand it. I love it. I always have. I feel far more sure footed once I get the first draft done, a draft that almost always takes me forever and frequently makes me doubt my abilities.

    I guess my point is that I think we’re all alike on this… it’s just a matter of where the struggle happens. And who knows? Maybe when you actually sit down with your stars-in-the-making, you’ll find that revising is more fun than you thought it would be.

    Fingers crossed for you!

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