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Keep Calm and Stop Editing

I think one of the worst parts about studying how to write, or learning all the technicalities on proper writing, are the rules of editing. Knowing all the rules usually involves badgering your work as you rewrite, and edit some more. The whole editing process feels like this:

1) Novel is done.

2) Rewrites are done (this usually takes 6 months to a year or more).

3) Find legitimate beta readers or writer’s groups that give half decent feedback you choose to trust even though they don’t really get it since they only read like a third of a chapter—but whatever.

4) Rewrite if you actually listen to the feedback

5) Edit

6) Could be done but edit some mor

7) Technical Edits

8) Final Edit


10) Throw your manuscript across your studio, go get frozen yogurt, and do the final edits When do you stop editing?

I like my blogs short. So I’ll keep it at this: The number one way to know when your edits went too far, is when you lost your voice—the prose that made your novel or poetry authentically yours.

Don’t lose your voice. Remember when Ariel from The Little Mermaid lost her voice so she’d get the guy? Don’t lose your voice so your writing becomes proper. Or too proper. You’re writing a book, not a fucking manual on the different phases of cell division.

Your adventure/fantasy novel should be exciting, not a step by step description of how your character is doing interesting things. Your writing should be as interesting as your character.

Your romance novel should not sound like a ‘how two characters are having sex manual’. Your prose should have more tension than the characters.

Editing is not a Catch 22. You either need to edit lightly, rewrite, stop, or throw your manuscript across the room and get frozen yogurt. Whatever you decide, keep that voice of yours intact.

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