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Self Editing Anxiety

Updated on April 10, 2012

How to make it as painless as possible

Have you written that book you always wanted to write? Have you begun the editing process? Hurts a little bit doesn't it? I have written several novels now and no I havent been published. Yes, I self published my first trilogy of novels and that was a very important lesson that I needed to learn. What did I learn? That you can never edit enough.

I can't tell you how many times I thought, "Now its done. No more editing needed here." I put the book down and moved on to the next. Some time later I would go back to it, start reading in order to reacquaint myself with what I had written only to find one mistake after another that I had somehow missed during my last editing phase. How frustrating.

Truth is its hard to self edit for more than one reason. You as the author know in your mind what it is you are trying to convey. Thus when you skim over a page your brain literally skips over the mistakes that are clearly present because they do not compute with what your belief is. Hard to understand? Let me put it this way. Lets say there are a mess of scratches on your eyeglass lenses. Most of the time they don't even bother you because your focusing past them. Occasionally you try to focus on something close up and Bam! You say to yourself, "I have to get these things fixed."

Overconfidence can be a troublesome foe. Proud of your work, having spent so much time getting it done, even the thought of something not being right is injurious to your psyche. There is much to be said for having confidence in one's own work and self. This positive feeling can carry you through the disappointment of repeated rejection notices, but overconfidence can be just as deadly to your dreams.

No matter how positive that everything is perfect you are, believe me there is something that can still be changed or corrected. You just have to take a step back for a while. Put the book down and go on to something else. Myself I have learned to go on to another book entirely. Now, that is not to say that I don't edit during the writing process. Often before beginning typing for the day I will go over the last chapter I wrote and correct any misspellings or mistatements I may have made, and there is always something to do there. At first it seemed tedious but in time it became rewarding on its own. Face it, these things take time and in this day and age time is more valuable than money.

Once I am through writing a book I will go back to the last book I wrote and restart the editing process. With a mind scoured clean of the last book's images it suddenly becomes so much clearer to me where my mistakes were and how to improve areas that could have been written better. Once finished I moved back to the last book I wrote and began the editing process. Finished there I returned again to the book I had last edited and begin again. Continue this over and over until you truly are done. How do you know you are really done? When a couple months have gone by and you go back to edit that book again but find nothing that needs to be changed then you are done. Good job. This was a lesson that took me years to learn mostly due to my stubborness. The purpose of this Hub is to save others the trouble. Please, take my word for it.

Having made more submissions than I care to admit there are a few things that most publishers look for that will make or break you regardless of the quality of your story. They really want to see that you have the capacity to self edit. These guys do not want to hire someone to do something they believe the author should be able to do themselves. Hmph, they don't want to hire anybody for anything in today's economy. Armed with that knowledge you have to be prepared to do everything if need be. The big business' want your work only if its going to make them money. Otherwise you are wasting their time and yours. Worse, lately it seems if you are not a previously published author you are not going to be given a shot anyway. Sometimes I wonder if my submissions were read at all. All I can do is hope and do the very best I can to make my work as mistake free and commercially viable as possible.

Ha! I sitll hate those words. Commercially viable. What a bunch of B.S. Do you know what is truly commercially viable in today's market? I mean besides the lazily written, unoriginal crap that the "Made" authors keep pushing out. No? Well, I can't say I am exactly sure what is commercially viable either but I have an idea what it may be. I think its the least imaginative, basic, modern day storyline that even the dimmest of readers can wrap their minds around. If you are writing something High Fantasy about a unique world with a plethora of cool and interesting stuff you are definitely not commercially viable there. Can a perfect edit help your case? Sure but only if you find the right sort of publisher with an open mind(Very Rare), or a small print publisher who is only going to give you the royalties for your work and they may even ask you to pony up some dough for the advertising or some such nonsense.

To sum it up folks remember that self editing is a part of being a new author. Understanding that your own mind works against you during this process should help you properly arm yourself to better accomplish the task. Good luck fellow writers and do not give up your dream! After all, there sure as hell aren't any regular jobs left out there. 


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    • Barnsey profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Happy Hunting Grounds

      I finally got the energy and courage to go all the way back to my first book. Only twelve chapters into the self editing process and I have already eliminated over four thousand words! Oh, the humanity!

    • Barnsey profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Happy Hunting Grounds

      Thanks for the comment and yes, reading your words aloud is another helpful tool. A funny story; I was doing just that one day and I heard my girlfriend's daughter pass by on her way to tell her mother that "Joe is in there talking to himself again!" I laughed so hard.

    • Diane Stephenson profile image

      Diane Stephenson 

      6 years ago

      Good points, and your experience is so true. I find editing and revising could go on forever if you don't come to the place where you say, "Enough!" One way to catch your own errors more easily is to read the manuscript aloud. When something is wrong it hits our ears where it may not catch our eye. Even the best author has books published with some errors. I don't suppose there is any such thing as a perfect book, but I do want my work to be as close to perfect as it is possible for me to come.

    • cavallo profile image


      6 years ago from Newmarket,UK

      Well written and great information ,advice. Hard to step back from your own work. Learning slowly. Awe the best.


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