Why Do Writers Procrastinate On Editing? (And how to JUST STAHP)


If you’re a writer, you know one thing more than you know your own name*: EDITING IS HARD. It’s arguably the least fun stage of the writing process. It involves copious notes, red pens, tears, hair transplants, and chocolate.

Some of you might know that I just started editing one of my books, so this terrifying little experience is fresh in my mind! YAY. Because I’m obviously so good at coping with high levels of stress, I’m going to give you some very sagacious advice on why exactly you’re running away from editing and how to JUST STAHP. (As in, dry your tears, stuff the rest of that chocolate bar into your face, and carry on.)
* plz give me some solidarity and tell me that i’m not the only one who forgets her own name every so often.


BECAUSE IT’S OBVIOUSLY TERRIFYING.

HONESTLY. Editing is scary for a number of reasons. First, you just wrote this book! It’s a first draft! IT’S MESSY. It’s filled with typos and grammar mistakes and plot holes. It’s basically a warzone. If you value your life at all, you’ll stay very far away from the front lines of that first draft.


BECAUSE WRITERS ARE (USUALLY) NOT EDITORS.

We don’t feel confident in what we’re doing. A red pen feels like a loaded gun that you don’t know how to fire. What ARE grammar mistakes, anyway?? WHAT ARE WORDS? Did I use the right ones or didn’t I? (Is my QUESTION even grammatically correct?) We are either overly-cautious and don’t edit enough or we’re overly-stabby and cause literary bloodshed. Either one is probably not fabulous.

WHY YES I LIKE STICKY NOTES....A LOT.

BECAUSE CHOPPING UP YOUR OWN BOOK IS BRUTAL AND SAD AND MURDEROUS.

BOOKS ARE PRACTICALLY LITTLE BABIES THAT HAVE NO EXPERIENCE OF THE EVIL EDITING WORLD. They are precious cinnamon rolls. And who would kill a cinnamon roll??? NOT ME NO SIR. Creating a second draft is stressful and hard, and quite honestly WE DON’T WANT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DAMAGE.


BECAUSE WRITERS ARE NOT WRITERS. IN FACT, WE ABSOLUTELY SUCK.

The more we read our work, the more we grow numb to how unique or interesting it is. Because most of the editing process is reading the thing EIGHT BILLION TIMES, after a while it might not seem like the most fascinating and brilliant work of literature that ever was. THIS IS NORMAL. In fact, if you felt like your story was fresh and awesome on proof read #8574125562, I would very probably be concerned for your memory.*
* sort of like how you should be concerned for mine. i laugh at the same stupid jokes in my book even on the 8574125562nd read. lol beware of this dog.


BECAUSE IT TAKES FOREVER.

Draft after draft, my book still might suck. Just think about all the things I could be doing instead of spending ALL THAT TIME editing! I could be making chocolate chip waffles or having a Downton Abbey marathon or BOTH. Why would I spend hours and hours pulling my hair out and crying instead?? THERE IS NO DECISION TO BE MADE HERE. 




BE A SMART WORD-ASSASSIN, NOT JUST A PLAIN OLD WORD-ASSASSIN.

Anyone can stomp into a book with a machete and cheerfully chop hours of hard work to pieces. But you, my writerly friend, know what needs to stay and what needs to go. YOU’RE THE PARENT OF YOUR BOOK-CHILD. You know it better than anyone. SO ACT LIKE IT. Don’t sacrifice creativity for a “polished” manuscript. Don’t chop gold for the sake of word count. If you can’t recognize your own creativity, get someone else’s opinion. Not everything progresses the plot, but that doesn’t make it fluff. BE SMART, SON.


BE PATIENT.

Of course it takes forever. IT’S EDITING. The hours might be long, but they are satisfying. Even if all you did was grammar check and tweak a few sentences! Even if there’s no obvious metamorphosis, you’ll feel good about yourself for doing something.


WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, CRY.

It helps, I promise. When the plot holes become deeper and the characters start acting like inconsistent vegetables and the writing style is drier than the Sahara, you might just need a little break. Be kind to yourself. Eat some waffles. Go pet a unicorn. Watch Downton Abbey. Come back to your book tomorrow with extra tissues (just in case.) 


GET SOMEONE ELSE’S OPINION/CRITIQUES.

Confession time: I have the best mother in the universe.* She reads my writing, critiques it, edits it, and even rewrites some of it. We brainstorm over plot issues and fix things together. She points out details that I don’t even notice. That’s why it’s SO IMPORTANT to have someone else reading your stuff. Because there are flaws that your brain will pathetically miss EVERY SINGLE TIME. It’s impossible for one person to notice everything.**

* SORRY I GUESS THAT WAS MORE THAN A CONFESSION it was kind like a world-crushing fact because you’ll probably never meet her (I keep her all to myself MUAHAHAHA) and how sad for you.

** quoted from: abbie’s unofficial book of pretend facts and statistics, part ii, chapter v, line xxvii.


STRAP ON YOUR NIKES AND JUST DO IT.

Don’t let anyone tell you that “you’re not an editor and you can’t do this and you need an editor to do this for you” – ESPECIALLY YOU. The first person to talk you out of editing your own book will be YOU. Don’t believe your lies! YOU CAN DO THIS. I have faith in you, and that’s all that matters. (Right??) If you tell yourself that you’ve got this thing all day…well then you’ve got this thing all day.


GO SLAY SOME WORDS!!

Do you edit your books? What do you hate about it? Beside the hair loss part of course – I’m sure that can’t be fun for anyone. What do you like about it? *nervous laughter* TRYIN’ TO BE OPTIMISTIC HERE, FOLKS. Do you procrastinate like a sleep-deprived sloth??? TELL ME ALL THE THINGS.

love,
abbiee

34 comments

  1. You are an inspiration all this talk about writing your own book is making me want to do the same thing. I love editing in red pen so many I'll have to write up a book. Could be fun. I just have noooo story ideas.

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    1. GAHH THANK YOU SO MUCH VANESSA. <3 Your comments always make me so happy. :) and yes dude you should totally try writing a book sometime! I highly recommend it. mauahaha

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  2. Aaaaaaaahhhhh. Yess. So I have never actually had the guts to really edit. Mostly because all my finished novels are like ehhhhhhhhh I wrote this so long ago and it's so trash right now and it just needs to be done over or shoved in a dusty corner and forgotten. But I definitely dread editing as much as any writer.

    Anyways, I loved this!

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    1. OMG YES I FEEL YOU SO MUCH. *nods solemnly* You pretty much just described my feelings towards most of the books I've written. xD IT'S SO MUCH EASIER TO JUST GO WRITE A NEW ONE YES. But editing is a necessary evil. :P thank you for reading, Hannah Joy!

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  3. SO YOU WANNA HEAR A CRAZY STORY?!?! I actually... like... editing. Sometimes more than I like writing the first draft... so much do that I am thinking of actually going into editing as a career... WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME, BASIVALKY?!

    *I tried to write the word "basically" twice in all caps and it autocorrected twice so I'm pretty sure "basivalky" is a legit substitute because autocorrect is always right, you know?

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    1. AHAHAH DUDE. I ADMIRE YOU SO MUCH. You should totally become an editor!! BECAUSE LOL I NEED HELP. MUCHAS HELP. *headdesk* that's great that you like it! and WHAT YES BASIVALKY IS NOW A WORD. DONE. ;)

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  4. This post is so so SO needed right now! Okay, well at least very soon. I'm currently writing the first draft of a novel, but once I'm done with it I'm going to start editing another novel I finished last year. And editing is so hard, but this post is fantatic!!
    ~Sara

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    1. EEEP THANK YOU SARA! omg I'm SO STOKED this post was inspiring for you! And that it came at the right time, too! *stars align* muahahah my omniscience must be working... ;) thank you so much for reading!

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  5. I CAN'T EDIT TO SAVE MY LIFE I just stare at my WIP until I hate it :''''') Or I re-write and re-write and re-write until it's not so bad, which I guess could count as editing. But you're totally right: editing is terrifying.
    Love the post <333

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    1. OMG YES YOU JUST DESCRIBED ME TOO. XD "staring at the WIP until you hate it" *nods slowly* WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS THING ABBY. WE ARE PRACTICALLY TWINS. <3

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  6. I haven't done much editing (mainly because of that time issue), but the worst part is for sure word count and cutting out my precious babies. Loved this post, though, and currently feel inspired to either watch Downton Abbey or write. OR maybe make waffles. One of those.

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    1. YES I RECOMMEND ALL THREE. *nod nod* Downton Abbey and waffles and writing. <3333 WHAT A PERFECT SOUNDING MONDAY. muahaha ;) I'm so glad you liked this post, Hannah dear!!

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  7. I'm possibly the only writer I know who enjoys editing??? Weird, I know. But I love the feeling of satisfaction I get after tweaking things so they're just right. Plus, I'm one of those edit-as-you-go types of people, so when I finish a draft I've gone over the first half about 60 trillion times already and it's pretty well-edited already.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. NO THAT'S ACTUALLY AWESOME. And that's so cool that you have an editing process down that works really well for you!! i'm jealous xD Thank you for reading, Ellie! *waffles*

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  8. You are definitely not the only one who forgets their name! (what is mine again?)

    Editing is hard wah I basically just sit at my laptop and cry.

    But STICKY NOTES ARE THE BEST OF EVER. THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH AS SAID BY KATIE

    Boy, do I need to Just Stahp. Like, I’m procrastinating editing at this very moment. But oh well we're not gonna mention that *cries*

    I AM A SMART WORD ASSASSIN. I need that in bold print right above my desk please. In like, big gold type.

    And now after this AMAZING post I am feeling inspired. I do believe I'll go edit now.

    Or maybe just eat waffles. Who knows?

    Katie katieconfetti.blogspot.com

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    1. GAH THANK GOODNESS I WAS AFRAID NOBODY ELSE FORGOT THEIR OWN NAME FOR A SECOND THERE. XD "Editing is hard wah I basically just sit at my laptop and cry." << yes this is my process too. we are basically the same person. STICKY NOOOTTESSS = LIFE.

      *SQUEAK* OMG THANK YOU I'M SO GLAD THIS POST WAS INSPIRING TO YOUUUU. <3 thank you so much for reading!! your comments always put a smile on my face. :D

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  9. HE LOVES YOU JANE, DO NOT GIVE UP!

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    1. GO TO OUR AUNT AND UNCLE'S IN LONDON AND I AM SURE HE WILL COME FOR YOU.

      this is why we're bros xDDDD
      ily so much

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    2. *packs jane's suitcase*

      right like we are the best bros
      ilyt

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  10. YUS editing is hard. But may I just comment on how your editing is very very aesthetically pleasing?!? BECAUSE I AM JEALOUS. My editing is just basically me lying on the floor saying "I DON'T WANNA". Ahem. I do get on with it though. I have done SO many edits on SO many books....and I mean, I've edited with my agent who is an editor so I KNOW HOW THE EDITING THING GOES BUT I STILL HATE IT AND THINK I'M KILLING MY BOOK EVERY TIME. Like what if I edit the wrong thing??? What if I make it worse??? Haaalp. *ahem*

    Although I do think editing gets easier as it goes along? Like the first 10K = pure evil. And then like by halfway through the book, things aren't so hard to edit. Either I'm in the groove of editing or else the ending of my books aren't as bad as the beginning. XD HAHAHAHA. Oh dear.

    Also I think it's really important to get a second opinion! But not a lot of second opinions because then you just get confused on what to change. 1 or 2 people are awesome. (BTW it's so cool your mum edits your stuff!! I used to do that with my mum, but hahah...she doesn't even like YA. So. I don't think she's read anything of mine in like 4 years. 0_0 It's actually super nerve wracking to have people you really love/care about read your stuff.😂 It's easier to take critiques from strangers??)

    Anyway. This is a glorious post. but dangit, I want chocolate chip waffles. I've never had one. I don't think I'm living.

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    1. OMG MY EDITING PROCESS IS AESTHETIC?? *SQUEAKS* THANK YOU DUDE <333 "Like what if I edit the wrong thing??? What if I make it worse???" <<< omg yes EXACTLY. These are the real questions and the real struggles. :'''')

      OH YES I GET YOU, editing does seem to get easier as it goes along. I think I'm going to experience that in this book, not because I got in the groove but because the firST 6 CHAPTERS ARE ABSOLUTE TRASH. *weeps quietly*

      YAAAS EXACTLY. I can see how too many people's opinions would be uber confusing and just not helpful after a while. xD AND OMG I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN ABOUT PEOPLE YOU LOVE READING YOUR STUFF. Because it's terrifying. *nervous laughter* Like there have been times when my mom is reading my book(s) out loud and I would be hiding my face in a pillow no joke. XDDDD waah.

      OMG YOU'VE NEVER HAD A CHOCOLATE CHIP WAFFLE?? BRB FLYING TO AUSTRALIA TO MAKE YOU SOME. *nod nod* eeEEEP thank you so much for reading, Cait!!! <3

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  11. That's really good advice. I just tagged you in my latest post. Let me know if you decide to do the tag :) Here's the link: https://readingexperienceswithnora.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/3-days-3-quotes-tag-day-3/

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    1. EEEEP THANK YOU NORA <3

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  12. ABBBIEEEE BRO. This is helpful. First off-- your awesome sense of humor like seriously you should do Sasssss 101 or something. And those GIF's were ON POINT. Now that that's out of the way.
    AKSDFJFDKSJFKDS THANKS FOR THIS POST OF TIPS LIKE CAN I PRINT THIS OUT AND LOOK AT IT WHEN I'M WRITING & EDITING. And also I really want to just read your book because if it can make you laugh after 8574125562 times I need that book rn in my life.

    NIKE LOGO = MOTTO.

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    1. ASDFGHJKL AUTUMN YOU AWESOME PERSON HI. <33333 omg thank you so much I am honored to be nominated to write "Sassss 101" because that's like my biography ok XD AHH THANK YOU I'M SO GLAD YOU LIKE THE GIFS. MUAHAHA.

      AND THE POST *hugs you a lot and flails* GAH I'M SO HAPPY THIS IS HELPFUL TO YOU :''') WAHH seriously I'm smiling so much right now!! AND OMG I CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU TO READ THE BOOK. I HOPE IT'S FUNNY I KNOW THAT I LAUGH OVER IT A LOT SO... xD Nike is boss *air punch* Thank you so much, dude!! <333333

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  13. I am dreading editing SO much oh my goodness. It's going to be a mess. So I'm bookmarking this post and I'll probably come back to it ten million times because hey, if you're going to be sobbing over an evil manuscript, might as well be laughing at Abbie's brilliant sass at the same time.

    It's the little things in life.

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    1. AASDFGHJKHHHHH GRACE ANNE I AM CRYING LAUGHING THANK YOU <33333333 omg editing is a beast but i am so glAD YOU LIKE THIS POST ASJKLSDSN *HUGS* LOVE U BRO

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  14. AH WE MUST BE TWINS OR SOMETHING BECAUSE I HAVE AN EDITING POST GOING UP THIS WEEK. *great minds, great minds*

    Ugh. Editing. I love what you said about other people looking over your work, because that is 100000% helpful. And terrifying. But I've learned so much through that about my own work.

    I LOVE HOW YOUR POSTS ARE ALWAYS SO BEAUTIFUL AND AESTHETICALLY PLEASING AND ASJFJKASL;. *slightly jealous at your awesomeness*

    // katie grace
    a writer's faith

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    1. OMG DUDE I FEEL LIKE THIS HAS HAPPENED MORE THAN ONCE I THINK WE MUST BE TWINS. CYBER BRAIN TWINS. IT'S A THING IT'S REAL. *nod nod* omg phsshhh dude YOUR posts are always so perfect and aesthetically pleasing SO THERE. <333333 and gah yes! it really helps sooo much to hear other people's opinions of your writing (and omg soooo terrifying O_O) gah thank you for reading, dear!! :)

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  15. THE HIGHEST SHAME UPON ME BECAUSE I DON'T EVEN DARE TO EDIT ANY OF MY STUFF. WAHWAAAA. I CRY ABOUT EDITING ESSAYS ARE YOU KIDDING ME. EDITING BOOKS IS EVEN MORE TERRIFYING.

    but this was good and SOME DAY* I'll apply it to my life. great post and advice, abbieeee!!

    *not today

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    1. EDITING REALLY IS TERRIFYING. But that's totally okay dude come to my house we shall have a tea party and watch Downton Abbey and avoid editing together. ;) MUAHAHAHA. thank you for reading dear!! YOU'RE THE BEST OMG. <3

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  16. Love this post ♥

    AND OMG YOUR STICKY NOTES LOOK SO GOOD WHY DON'T I GET THOSE IN MY COUNTRY

    I NEED TO MOVE TO AMERICA (brain: but you love Indian food)
    correction: I NEED SOMEONE TO SHIP ME THINGS FREE FROM AMERICA JUST CUZ I'M ADORABLE

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Nice comments brighten my day x100000! I read and respond to every single one (and I also give my commenters free virtual waffles, so that's a plus.)