Last week I finished beta reading something for a fellow writer. It was just what I needed, but I didn't realize it until I turned my focus back to my own story. As you all know, I've been editing my novel for quite some time now. And as close as I am to my story, it's hard for me to look at it objectively. I can't just do a critique on it the same way I would on someone else's work. And whenever I take a break from my story, I don't really take a break. In other words, I might not write or edit anything, but I still focus all my thoughts on it.
So after deciding to expand on a certain element in my story, I needed another break. It's taken up tons of my time to get the word count down to a reasonable amount, and this decision was going to force me to add more words. Not knowing where to start had me frozen, even though I didn't think it would take much to change it up. About that time, a fellow writer made a request for a beta. I jumped at the opportunity. And I am glad I did!
I read the story submitted to me before offering my critique. Then I went back to my story. Without getting worked up about how to start, I started on page one and began reading. Errors I had never seen before jumped out at me. Why? Because I'd gotten used to watching for them in the story I was beta-ing. Critiquing somebody else's work helped me to see my errors, which is always a good thing. And not only that, it really cleared my head. My over thinking about my novel had become my stumbling block. Now that block is gone, and over the weekend I sailed through a third of my 113K word manuscript. I tweaked here and there, added a bit in a few places, and removed unnecessary narrative/dialogue/etc. And it's reading much better.
Sometimes the editing process can be draining. And for me, it's seldom fun, although it is necessary. Thankfully, after putting all my focus on somebody else's work, my excitement for my story has been renewed.