Editing, and why it’s not my enemy anymore

You hear writers grip a lot about the editing process, and for good reason. After you get done with a project, the last thing you want to think about is the changes you’ll have to make to it. Sometimes, we get that little voice that blocks us from writing in the first place because Oh God, we’re going to have to go over this again and fix it all! That’s why during NaNo writers remind each other to go bury that inner editor, abandon it for as long as possible just to get that draft out!

Unfortunately, that inner editor can’t stay gone. Eventually in the process, we need to let that critical voice ride shotgun. If it’s well trained, it helps us catch those errors and mistakes. Note, I point out well-trained. I’m not talking about the voice in the back of your head that tells you to give up writing in general. Sometimes we blame those thoughts on the inner editor, but really, that’s not coming from that voice. The give-up thoughts come from the doubter.

The first step to enjoying the editing process of writing means separating the doubter’s input from the inner editor’s critique. The doubter is the one that wants you to lose hope, to demolish your sense of self-worth, and to wreck your motivations. That voice can sound like a twin to the editor, but it’s not quite the same. See, the inner editor wants to help you find the best version of your draft. It points to flaws–grammar or story structure, but once separated from the doubter it’s just flaws without judgment. With its help, you can go from saying ‘draft’ to ‘manuscript.’

The second part is remembering why you’re sitting with a draft. Writing is hard work, but anyone who’s involved in this stage of the process is still at it because they want to be. Part of you wants to tell the best story possible and one of the big differences is caring enough to edit. We all wish magical, perfect first drafts would spring out of our head, but we know the reality is the sweat and marked up pages. Lots of marked up pages. We’re at these pages because we have stories that we want to share with others. Editing focuses prose into a better story, making it more enjoyable for the readers.

And lastly, finishing editing is one step closer to publishing–whether you go for self-publication or submitting to publishing houses. It’s really the last of the huge steps. After the draft is this solid, you hand it out to some betas, you finish that editing and wow, you’ve got a completed work. You’ll be done.

While it’s a lot of hard work, it’s part of the process. It helps dig out the wonderful story buried and put a noticeable polish on the words. Editing is something that has to be done in order to get the best story possible. Finding ways to enjoy this part of the process is going to make it a lot easier to do. And don’t we get more done when we find a way to have fun?