Posted in Writing

How to combat fear of novel editing

(Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash)

Disclaimer: I am not a published author (yet), nor do I profess to mastering the arts. 

I’d like to share some images with you to kick off this post.  I took these while riding along some country lanes last week.

“In my world, this is how editing my first novel feels like”

I completed the first draft of my book in 2017, two years after starting it. Then it was time to share it out with my group of readers.  There was a group that included friends and family (alpha readers) and the feedback was positive, but there was much work to do. Then I widened the net, some new readers I knew of, some I had said “Hi” to once or twice at the gym, or a contact through a friend (Beta readers).  The feedback was great and a real boost, but I can safely say the editing process sometimes felt like an SAS training camp.

Like the images show, just as you are getting near it all seems far again! 

Tips on dealing with editing

So the situation is, your lovely group of readers have fed back their comments.  In my case, that was comments x 5.  It felt like the letter I knew was sitting on the console table but one I didn’t want open.  I’d walk past it, but I knew at some point it had to be dealt with.  So lets try and open that letter
(P.S. written in the notion that we are NOT in lockdown, and life is back to normal – hectic)

(1) Don’t see it as a chore – I’d say reverse this back to the moment you put pen to paper and decided to write a book.  If you see it as a chore, stop right there.

(2) Don’t take the feedback personally – You’ve asked for feedback based on a subjective piece of writing. Remember your reader has shared thoughts on what they have read, not what they know of you personally. 

(3) Set a timer to review edits – If you are working during the week, then try and set a timer each day.  I set a 30 minute countdown each day for my edits in a working week, and stopped right there.

(4) Book in weekends and stick to it – One of the main reasons, as I see it, why our draft copies can sit in a drawer for long periods is because of the reality of priorities. Simply put, we feel guilty spending time on ourselves. The weekends give you a good opportunity to work through those edits. 
Book the time in with family for your edits and stick to it.  For me, it means that one weekend my wife will cover the kids sports drop offs and picks up, while I delve deep into editing. This also includes setting times during the day for editing.  Sometimes you will need to balance your optimum time for editing vs immediate family requirements. Don’t get frustrated, there are moments when you will just have to get off that chair to complete something around the house. Take a deep breath! 

(5) Keep your phone well out of distance – Distraction! Distraction! Distraction! Need I say more? If you have it with you, you will pick it up and this will break your focus. It’s like when you were taking your exams, and you came downstairs for a 15 minute break.  You then put the TV on for a quick scan, and 1 hr later you’re hooked on some programme and the books are sitting waiting for you.  Find it easy to re-focus?

(6) Visualise the end goal – Tell yourself every day that you will get the editing finished.  Each time I start to edit, I visualise my end goal, and that is a finished book sitting on a shelf in a bookshop – or in someone’s bookshelf at home.  

If you are in the editing process of your novel, please share your thoughts.  





Someone trying to rip through the normality of life and expand a few horizons.

10 thoughts on “How to combat fear of novel editing

  1. Editing is a necessary evil… But as long as you acknowledge that it has to be done, you can will yourself to do it!!!
    It’s good to be subjective of all the feedback, and yes, don’t take it personally.
    Different courses for different horses, so to speak…
    But with the polish of editing, your gem will truly sparkle!!!

  2. I hope I’m motivated to work on mine after reading this. But you went wrong in the 6th tip. it should be shelves and bookshops and homes 😉 You should get famous ^_^

  3. I am not an editor. To quote Stephen King, “I’m more a putter inner than a taker outer.” So I will likely always need an editor should I go to publish anything in the future. More power to those with the discipline to do it themselves. I found having an editor pretty useful because sometimes they’d have ideas to make improvements I hadn’t considered. It taught me the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.

  4. Well done on writing a book let alone editing. It must be hard not to take feedback personally when you are sending something it into the world that you’ve worked so hard on.

  5. These are really great tips! I think not taking feedback personally is really important because that’s the best way to improve your writing and make it better.

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