But here's what I've learnt so far...
Upon opening your edits you will require two things:
a) A paper bag to breathe into.
b) The space to pace.
Hyperventilation is a natural reaction to reading you should cut your favourite character, change your heroine's profession, switch your hero's core conflict, remove your subplot/add a new subplot and move the beginning to the middle and re-write the last two-thirds.
But...as your breathing recovers (thanks to the paper bag) and you remember this writing gig is all about being BRAVE you will venture over to the waste-paper basket to retrieve the tightly scrunched-up paper balls of edits you slam-dunked earlier. Carefully and courageously you will straighten them out and start re-reading them.
Slowly but surely your friend Perspective will return and before you know it your little grey cells will be up and running again (this is why you need the space to pace). Because as you walk back and forth, your mind shifting through all the possibilities, you realise someone is showing you how your book could be even more beautiful - with even more light and shade and delicious twists and turns. Basically you're being given the key to access that slice of perfection that was originally in your head. Before you sat down to write it!
Yes, beginning the official editing process will invariably invoke a feeling of: One-step-forwards-three-hundred-gigantic-steps-backwards. But don't worry - remember this is all about being BRAVE and any steps you take in any direction with regard to your manuscript will have you learning more about your writing.
Tackling edits basically means getting deeper and deeper involved with your book. To compensate you might find yourself starting to let some life stuff slide. You might also find yourself adopting a couple of unhealthy lifestyle habits (although I've chosen to think that increasing my alcohol and chocolate intake is, in some small way, helping the economy). Also, there's this...
1) Any semblance of an exercise regime will fly out the window. But, exercise-shmexercise, right? Living through your heroine means you have the body of a snarky twenty-four year old with a fantabulous wardrobe and 'because you're worth it' hair, anyway.
2) Working hard to make your book beautiful means your own beauty regime may slacken. That's okay - see 'living through your heroine' above.
3) In theory there's nothing wrong with incentivising yourself to stay on editing track. In reality, filching and customising your child's reward chart by replacing the stars with symbols of little glasses of wine and chocolate, falls under the category of getting in the way of yourself, procrastinating, and ignoring the being BRAVE thing.
4) At the beginning of your edits you will get a cold, or a virus, or the flu. This is because, while in a highly suggestible state, you will have mistakenly tried to maintain a healthy work/life balance, left the house, and thus come into contract with germ-ridden people.
5) Coming up to the home-straight of your edits you will get ANOTHER cold, or a virus, or the flu. But this time it's because you haven't consumed anything that could pass for a healthy diet in weeks.
6) Some days you will be so deeply involved with your edits you'll forget to dress.
7) Some days you will forget to eat - wait, that won't happen - no one is lucky enough to lose weight while editing.
8) On one of the days you will re-write a pivotal scene that puts your book on a whole other new level of greatness.
9) Unfortunately, the next day, you will re-read it and ponder the possibility that next door's cat somehow got in while you weren't looking, deleted your brilliant prose, and replaced it with gibberish.
10) Whilst you never thought of yourself as a grammar aficionado exactly, now the few simple rules you thought you did have down turn tricky on you. Hours will be spent second-guessing every sentence you construct and your approach to punctuation will become positively punchy.
11) Eventually, after many, many, many hours you will pronounce yourself finished.
12) You will allow a small smile as you press send...but while contemplating what healthy meal to fix for supper you will experience the sudden certainty that you hadn't, in actuality, finished. In fact, now you've had two minutes to think, you worry you've written all the life out of it and want to climb through your computer and claw it back before it hits your editor's in-box.
13) Funnily enough it is at this exact time that you will realise you've run out of alcohol and chocolate.
14) You will start to hyperventilate.
15) Until remembering you have a paper bag put aside for just this sort of occasion.
16) And as your breathing settles, Perspective will tug you on your sleeve and remind you how BRAVE you've been and that if needs be you can be BRAVE again and tackle a second round.