Editing! Why is it such a gruelling task?

I have spent most of today trying to edit my novel.

Boy this is such a gruesome task. For some reason I just can’t seem to disconnect from the story and just focus on the editing.

Even when I try breaking it up into chunks and concentrate on say one chapter, or one page or even one sentence, I just can’t bring myself to alter any of the words.

I find myself reshuffling sentences, or adding full stops, commas, capital letters. But changing the words, I just can’t. These are my words.My story. In my mind and in my imagination, this is how it has all played out.

To change the words would be like trying to change the story. Yet I know it must be done. I will seriously need to enlist the help of a professional editor, I can’t see any other way around this.

Would appreciate any advice or thoughts or tips on what others writers do. How do you tackle the daunting task of editing? Surely I can’t be the only one that struggles with this? And if I am, what am I doing wrong?


23 thoughts on “Editing! Why is it such a gruelling task?

  1. I’ve never written a book. That editing must be horrendous. I know though when I write school reports though, a trusted friend is a good help to read through to see if what you think you are saying is what you wrote. Maybe enlist a few friends to do some chapters each? Good luck with your task šŸ™‚

  2. I have some friends have writing books and so. I use to read and correct for them, when they ask for help. English is not my first language, so I’m not able to help you. Maybe you have an English speaking trusted friend, as you can ask about help. Just to get anothers view can be a big help.

  3. True, editing is a pain!
    I have just spend a couple of weeks editing my book and it was horror! Lol.
    It really is something you have to force yourself to do. Do you have Beta readers? Before I started editing, I had some people read my book. After they finished, I asked them to fill in a small form where I asked them a couple of things I really wanted to know. Like, what did you think about the main characters, storyline, events ect. And I asked them if they could change something in the story, what would that be? I also had someone who read the story for me and highlighted sentences he thought could have been written smoother and point out some mistakes. With all the information I collected from my Beta readers, I have started editing.

    Because your book is so very close to your own heart, you really need other people to point out some things that you might not have thought about. At first, I found it very hard too to change something about my story, even if it was just a word. But when I read my edited book, I realize it’s better than ever!

    Good luck!
    Lots of love,

    1. Thank you Patty. I like the idea of preparing a form with all the things I’d like someone to look out for. My sister has read the book, but she is my sister so naturally her feedback is bias. Beta readers are a good idea though. I guess it’s nice to know that I am not the only one that feels likes this. Thank you for taking the time to comment and for all your suggestions.

  4. I’m currently editing my book and I’m struggling much more with the editing than I did with the writing. My brain is just not that interested in it. I know my words are far from perfect, but I feel like I’ve already told the story and now it’s time to move on.

    To keep myself on track, I have a list of all the things I know I need to change related to the story structure. Then I have checklist of things to keep an eye out for, or things I need to add or develop further.

    So far, I’ve just been going chapter by chapter. My last step is to try to make every chapter as good as the first one.

    Like others have said, I also have a beta reader that is giving me feedback.

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you Jennifer. Writing the novel is so much fun. I get so caught up in the story and the characters, but once it’s finished I would rather begin planning my next novel then editing the last one. Thank you for your help.

  5. You’ve already tried what I do – taking one little chunk at a time. But I don’t have a book, and whenever I edit, for every bit I take out, I think of twice as much more to put in. Guess I’m not an editor.

  6. I understand. I have the problem sometimes of not yet being satisfied with what is written so that editing turns into rewriting. I like to have may things for this very reason. Sometimes I can do on or the other and then there is always something to work on. I have a few other modes too… so much to do is best for me. Best wishes.
    ~ Eric

  7. I just found this post through your tag on editing and I thought I’d post. I began writing my novel in a Creative Writing Class I took. We did the first three chapters and all of the editing from my group and published mentor helped polish it SO MUCH! But now, the class is over and I don’t know what to do without having them to read it anymore. Eek! Editing is twice as hard as writing is and writing is already wicked hard by itself. So I feel your pain.

    1. Hi Megan, I took a creative writing class years ago and really loved it. Looks like we are not alone when it comes to dreading editing, but I received many great suggestions. Looks like the trick is to either enlist the help of a trusted friend or two or possibly even consult a professional editor. Thank you for stopping by, good luck with your writing.

  8. I can empathize with you. Yet, once I told a writer that I disliked editing and she said, Oh, but that’s the fun part of writing. That’s when you really discover what your book is about. I guess it depends what draft you’re at.
    Right now, I’m at the stage of editing a woman’s fiction novel and I’m finding that I’m taking out scenes but also adding some.
    It’s not such the mechanics of grammar and sentence structure. I think those are the copy editing stage.
    I’ve found the Ackerman/Puglissi series helpful in the editing process. Also The Browne/King Self-Editing For Fiction Writers.
    But I also believe that outside readers are very helpful. Especially if you can afford a professional editor. The trick is to find one that clicks with you and your style of writing. And beware of frauds.
    Good luck. Have fun. šŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for your suggestions Carol. I will definitely add the Ackerman/Puglissi series and The Browne/King Self-Editing For Fiction Writers to my library. At the moment I am still on my first draft. I like to give myself time away from my novel once I’ve finished writing it. I find this helps with editing, but it is still such a long, slow process. Thank you for stopping by. šŸ™‚

  9. Rewriting is something you must do for yourself. Even if it is, as many writers have said, “difficult to kill your little darlings (words)” sometime you really must. It is almost impossible to edit your own grammar, spelling etc. We tend to see what we think we wrote, not what we wrote.

    Good luck.

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