In defence of editing

Authors tend to carry on about editing. How it’s painful, laborious and generally unpleasant.

I’ve been known to complain occasionally. Look:

But it’s not all bad. No, really.

Don’t believe me? Below are a few reasons why I’ve learned to not hate embrace the editing phase of each manuscript I work on.

Time to breathe

ReliefThe editing phase of any project gives my creativity time to regenerate. Usually after I’ve finished the first draft of any project I’m all tapped out and exhausted. When I write my first draft I tend to write and write like crazy, which is great, but you can’t do it forever. So editing gives me the opportunity I need to rest before I start the next project and do it all over again.

Time for new ideas

IdeaAuthors often have lots of ideas. The annoying thing about ideas is that they generally don’t behave themselves. Ideas come to you at the most inopportune moments. Ideas are attention seekers too. They don’t care if you’re 50,000 words into an existing project, they want you to sit up and notice them, NOW! So, stroke your latest idea’s ego a little, write down as much as possible about said idea . . . and then come back to it, when you’re ready.

When I’m editing an existing project I find it’s a good time to concentrate on new ideas and let them take hold. I’m usually completely over the project I’m editing anyway – after all, it’s an old idea – so I spend time daydreaming about my new idea, developing characters and plot points. Rather than distracting me from editing the existing project, I find it motivates me for a couple of reasons: 1.) It makes me keen to get my editing over with so I can move on to writing about my new idea, and 2.) it takes the focus off editing. Why is this good? Because if all I was doing was editing, I’d get extremely frustrated!

A chance to make your manuscript shine

Editing hardIt’s true. Authors complain about editing, but without the time spent fine tuning your words, you don’t have a complete manuscript. Editing also gives you the opportunity to look at your manuscript in a different way. When you’re writing the first draft, you’re looking at your words from a creative viewpoint. When you’re editing, you start to notice elements like repetition, consistency issues, and all the other things that need to be there to transform your writing from just OK, to damn good.

A sense of achievement

HappyRather than being overwhelmed by the process of editing, give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve finished a first draft. That’s a huge accomplishment, believe me. Not everyone can do that. The fact that you are editing anything at all means you are making progress with your writing. It means you took an idea and developed it into a story and you should definitely be proud of that.

A sense of routine

Deadline plodderI’m a bit of a routine girl. I like having a schedule. While you can aim to have a schedule when writing a first draft, it doesn’t always work out that way. You might be aiming for a certain amount of words a week for instance, but sometimes those words just don’t come, do they? Other times words will flow and you’re smashing that word count goal.

Editing can be a lot more predictable. You have a certain number of chapters to get through, in a certain time frame, and you can run with that. The retentive part of me really enjoys the predictability of editing.

Embrace editing. Or at least don’t hate it quite so much.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that editing isn’t all bad, or at least brought you closer to accepting that it’s a valuable part of the writing process.

So I guess that means I should finish up this blog post and get back to it then. Oh, alright. If you insist . . .

How about you? Do you enjoy editing?



4 Replies to “In defence of editing”

  1. Definitely agree with you that editing isn’t all bad! I think it’s nice as well to be one step closer to the end goal of a completed manuscript that you’re happy with (and you can’t really get there without the editing!)

  2. I must be weird, I enjoy the intermediate stage of editing my own writing as much as I enjoy writing it. Even the later phases are quite fun too. Sometimes whole storylines flip backwards. Sheesh, I sound like Pollyanna with a typewriter (I’m not, I’m really not)!

    1. Hi there. Nice to hear from you. I wish I could say that I like editing as much as writing the first draft, but I don’t! I’m hooked on the rush of creativity involved in writing a first draft. It’s great to hear from another writer who actually enjoys editing. Thanks for commenting.

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