Editing is Writing

Sometimes we are so caught up in the excitement of making that first draft that when it comes time to edit, that necessary aspect of writing pales by comparison.  It's not to say there are not multiple uh huh  moments when you bask in the glory of well-arranged words, a perfected piece of dialogue, a rearranged scene, but for some reason (at least for me), the editing-phase isn't a favorite one.  Of course, I pull myself through, pass the changes onto to trusted beta readers for feedback and critique.  But as an earlier post on this blog (The Lagging Middle) disclosed, there's certain points along the way, I have to dig inside to keep moving forward.

Maybe part of it is the simple truth that a writer, writes.  And we've all heard it said that we only improve by continuing to write.  Edits, well, don't make you feel like you're writing.  That is a delusion!

Just think about it.  Yes, you may slash out scenes, take out words, but how many new sequences do you interject?  In how many sections have you inserted revised phrasing, written entirely new scenes, improved on the original?  That's right.  Repeat after me:  Editing is writing.

What does that mean?  You're growing as a writer, even as you edit.

I had this "little talk" with myself actually.  New characters speak to me, eager to pull me into their world, and for the last four years, I have listened, and written their stories.  I'm proud to say that out of that hard work, I have written seven novels that I am extremely proud of, but ask me how many of them are refined enough at this exact moment to share with you?  One.  (Ties that Bind, available in electronic format here. Don't forget coupon code: H737L $3.99 USD)

Now, I'm not ashamed about that fact.  Especially, now that I've chosen the self-published route, I appreciate the aspect of editing even more.  But as I think ahead, I want to continue making my novels available for my readers.  So, it's actually great that I have six more to pull from, to revise, refine, and make shine, but when I look forward, I see a lot more editing than new books being written.  (Trust me, I have lots of characters who still try to pull me in, but I've just told them sssh for the moment.)

But realizing that editing is writing too, I'll push through.  Knowing that at the end of it, people will be able to read my books, and hopefully be drawn in and enjoy my hard work, that is priceless.  It's terrific knowing that I'm working toward an ultimate goal now that is within my reach.  I promise my readers a release this Fall, Winter, Spring, and next summer.

And, of course in there, I intend to write.  I'd love to participate in Nanowri at least.  It was great fun last year!

In the meantime, how else will I feed my need to get new words down?  This blog, and guest posts on other blogs, of course.

So have you experienced the editing blues?  Based on comments from "The Lagging Middle", I know some of you out there do?  How do you combat the negative energy and continue forward?  What else do you while you're in the editing phase to keep fueled?


  1. Yes, I suffer. Editing is apart of the writing process, but it's hard to make changes in the very thing you created. I like to put it aside for a while and work on the next project while I think about the scene changes in my head.

  2. I actually enjoy the fine-tuning of editing. It is when I need to go back and rewrite that I need to remind myself to switch hats. for some reason, going back and forth is what catches me up. But you are right, it is all writing!

  3. my prob w/editing is I'm all gung ho starting out (so my first chapters look great!) then I want to get done nd rush thru the rest. I'm trying to take my time this go around. my biggest question is, how do you know when you're done editing? I could nit pick forever!
    thanks for the post!
    have a nice wknd =)

  4. Amen!
    Every time I go over a mss, I see something to do to make it better! Or, I'll find something to give me pause and wonder, "Why did you do that? Isn't there a better way?"

    I've often learned more reviewing than in the first run-through.

  5. Thank you all for your comments. And you're right LV, editing/reviewing does strengthen our writing immensely.

  6. Editing is one of those love and hate relationships. Takes sometimes more time to edit your work then it originaly had taken to write the first draft. But the outcome is usualy worth it.

  7. Magic Mint, the outcome is definitely worth it. I love it when I read something I've written, and say under my breath, "who wrote this" :D

  8. I do a lot of editing and rewriting as I draft, for the most part -- I have a hard time writing the next section of a first draft until I've gotten the previous section as close to perfect as I can at that time. But I'm with Rebecca: I don't mind editing, but rewriting can drive me nuts!

  9. Rachael, I'm the same way! Sometimes I have to force myself to move on to the next scene or chapter. I tell myself, and others have told me the same thing, "it's just the first draft, get through it and polish later." Carolyn, your post are always informative and insightful.

  10. Rachael and Ken, thank you for your comments.

    I can relate as well. It doesn't happen with all of my novels, but there are times it does, especially when it came to writing my mysteries. Just trying to make sure everything is there to build from...

  11. Yes, editing is fun. My first full length novel had a couple of rewrites and ended up being spit shined a total of seven different times before I sent it into the publisher. After that I had to do one more edit yet. Editing really is hard work, and most times readers are unaware how many hours that we pore over our keyboards but there's such a feeling of satisfaction when what you've finished you know is one hundred percent finished.


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