Why Writers Hate Editing and What We Can Do About It

I actually like editing. I find it soothing to impose order on chaos. But editing is also an easy step to skip over. I mean, you wrote. It’s written. Why not just post the thing or send it out or whatever? Right?

No! Editing is when the magic happens. It’s the reason great writers are great writers. They don’t necessarily write beautiful first drafts. They get the basics down. Then they revise, revise, revise, until it really sparkles.

You don’t have to make a big production out of this. Here are some really simple ways to make your drafts better:

1. Print out what you’ve got. There’s something about seeing something in physical form that helps you spot what’s not quite right. Maybe do it in a different font from the one you used to write it. Now take it somewhere pleasant—outside, a cafe, wherever—and read it over, marking your thoughts as you go. I like to use a marker in a color that makes me happy. I bought a large package of Crayola skinny markers for this purpose.

2. Read it aloud. You’ll hear what’s clunky because you won’t be able to say it.

3. Have some friends read it and give you feedback. I wrote about this before. It’s invaluable.

4. Get Susan Bell’s The Artful Edit. There you’ll find these tips plus a whole bunch more.


  1. I actually love editing, as much as I like post processing my images. But the most problem occurs when I think a piece isn’t perfect even when I hit a limit and don’t know where to edit further. I guess that’s where editors — with a new perspective — come in handy.

  2. I in the editing process of two books and it is kind of soothing to look back at what you wrote and be able to move through or make changes in a perhaps different frame of mind when you first wrote it.

  3. Reblogged this on sjlynn87 and commented:
    I’m glad I looked into this. I too wanted to aspire to be like my favorite authors. My work seems to sound foreign to me. But, like Susan Bell says in her book “The Artful Edit”, that can be a good thing! If it doesn’t sound familiar, then it is honest work. So, I’m hoping that I’m just coming into my own. Even though my work is turning out to be something that I didn’t originally intend, it’s blossoming into something else. Great reference, Jennifer Armstrong.

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