Why Editing Your Writing is Painful

Editing. Just that word alone strikes fear into the heart of many writers. That’s if you’re not one of those weirdo who enjoys it. They exist apparently.

For the rest of us, let’s wallow in our editing misery by reflecting on why editing is the writing equivalent of pulling teeth.

Why Editing Your Writing is Painful

1.You are at the point where you’ve read your novel eleventy billion times. One more look and you swear you’ll press the delete key or jump out the window.

2. Pesky plot holes jump out of nowhere. You could have sworn you filled them all in. But no, there they are, so wide you could swim in them.

3. Typos multiply like rabbits. You find one and then suddenly there are hundreds more behind it. Getting rid of them is the equivalent of playing Whack-a-Mole on high speed.

4. Characters appear you swear you never created. Genuinely who the f**k is Alice? Why has Steve changed gender? How come Liz is now Lucy?

5. You curse yourself for naming the antagonist after your mother-in-law. It was subconscious. You hadn’t noticed until now. Now you’ve got to think of a new name and change every mention of the relative you cannot upset.

6. Despite the eleventy billion drafts, your novel still sounds shite. This is probably more to do with the fact you’ve read it eleventy billion times.

7. You know when the editing is done that you’ll be sending your work to beta readers. This is the place where you need to learn to let go. I said, let go. Prise your fingers off, get that manuscript out from between your clenched teeth, back away…

8. Despite all your efforts there will always be that one typo that refuses to die. It will live forever and sleep within the pages of your published work no matter how hard you try to track it down and slay it.

9. Editing is boring. The interesting plot changes, character tweaks, and new shiny ideas are over. It’s cold hard reading and correcting. Send in coffee.

10. You know you need to edit even if a pro will be doing it for you afterwards. It’s the equivalent of not leaving your house in an absolute shit tip when the cleaner comes around. Common courtesy, not making it a Herculean task, and making life easier for you and the employee.

11. Editing means you might be sending it to agents or publishers soon. The pressure of making sure your editing skills are spot on so your novel will be taken on is immense.

12. Words used to be your friends. Once upon a time, many drafts ago, words and you played together. Life with words was fun. Now they are cruel mistresses, sucking the joy out of anything alphabet-related.

13. You wish novels were only 500 words maximum.

14. You’d rather be watching a box set, extracting your toe nails, or doing house work. All the important stuff.

15. Once you enter editing it feels like you’ve fallen into a worm hole. The editing process always feels like it takes a hundred times longer than any draft.

16. Your eyes get tired and sentences swim in front of your eyes. Your manuscript becomes a blur.

17. Editing is like hitting the wall in a marathon. You’ve trained, you’ve come so far, you know you shouldn’t give up, but the temptation is strong.

18. You forget the joy of finishing editing previous work. You’re convinced it never happened.

19. Beginning editing is the hardest part. You took a break after the last draft. The problem is you forget to stop taking a break. So far you have been on a world cruise, read War and Peace, and seen your children grow up. You’ll get around to editing, soon, honest.

20. Editing software is your friend and foe. Rely on it too much and you’ll have a novel lacking any description, any repetition of ‘the’, and it reading like Stephen Hawking’s computer voice. Disregard editing software and you’ll soon find out just how little you know about your native language.

21. The language you’ve spoken since the first time you opened your gob now becomes foreign. Who knew all those weird grammar rules and sentence constructions? Not you, that’s for sure.

22. Some smart arse will read your edited work and point out every single typo, error, and plot hole. Guaranteed.

23. Editing a written piece isn’t as interesting as editing your life. You alter some words. Not all that exciting. You alter your marital status, your home or brand of chocolate. So much better.

24. Wot r werds?

Over to You

Do you find editing hard work?

How do you get through editing?

Do you enjoy editing? Go away. No, really. Go away and edit. We’ll just sulk in the corner while you do.

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer. When she's not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, books, the cats, and the husband. Perhaps not in that order.

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