People hate editing. It fills them with dread as they side-eye their draft wondering how little editing they can get away with.
When I named my business, I always envisioned that the path of least revision meant approaching the editing process in a way that increases your efficiency and decreases your frustrations and the amount of time required. Not to do the least amount of revision possible.
Edit smarter, not less.
And while I don’t think anyone makes that mistake about my business, plenty of people make that mistake when they edit their book.
You need editing. But you can’t walk or surf by a writers’ group without hearing grumbling about the editing process. *grumble grumble* Editing is sooooo tedious. You get authors saying, “Don’t worry about X, Y, Z because my editor will catch them.”
Um, nope. Your editor doesn’t transform your manuscript into perfection. Your editor raises the quality of your manuscript. If you start low, you end low. And that means YOU need to invest in the editing process. (In other words, quit being a baby about editing. If you want a good book, you have to put in the time and effort to make it so.)
But if you dig deep into the reasons why people avoid editing, you’ll find plenty of variation.
Belief: My writing is perfect the way it is
You never have an accurate picture of your writing—and usually, you have an inflated opinion of it. (Especially if you’re calling your writing perfect. Get over yourself. Perfection doesn’t exist.)
Sometimes we want to believe our writing is perfect (or really damn good) because then we don’t have to admit our mistakes or that we might not be as awesome as we want to be. But you’ll never grow as a writer if you don’t create room for improvement.
Mindset: Editing is so time consuming
It does take a lot of time to edit, but the real problem here isn’t how much time editing takes. It’s that people expect to be finished after their first draft. The end of your first draft is the beginning, not the end.
A book that rocks people’s socks off doesn’t just fall from your brain in one draft. Writing is an evolution, and if you don’t take the time to develop and nurture your ideas, you’re never going to realize your full potential.
And don’t fall into the trap of knowing your writing needs work, but not investing the time. This isn’t school where you can bullshit through a paper and get an A. When others read your book, they’re going to make an assumption about you as a writer and person based on the quality of the book. Make your best impression.
Otherwise people will think, “This is good, but could have been so much better.” Create something you’re truly proud of.
Avoidance: You know your manuscript needs work, but because you don’t know how to address the problem, you pretend it’s fine
I’ll be honest. I did this all the time with my school papers. I’d write them last minute, know they could be better, but not really know where to start. And I don’t ever remember being taught how to edit my papers. It’s no wonder, then, that so many run a spell check and call it a day.
Insecurities: Editing feels like admitting you’re a terrible writer or seeing your “mistakes” makes you feel like a failure
The first few times I read my story after completing the first draft, I get weirded out because all I see is how terrible everything is. I despair that I can never create something people will like reading.
And that’s your insecurity talking. Editing can be extremely uncomfortable, but making changes and fixing your writing doesn’t make you a terrible writer or a failure. It’s a natural part of the editing process.
Why do YOU avoid editing?