4 Common Misconceptions About Editing

4 common editing misconceptions

A lot of writers out there have a love-hate relationship with writing, and only a hate-relationship with editing. Are they right to despise the editing process?

Let’s find out, as I present to you…

Four common misconceptions when it comes to editing:

1. Writing and editing are two processes that have nothing to do with each other

If this were true, all writing would end after the first draft. What about rewriting?

Anything you do after the first draft involves changes (edits) of some sort, but that doesn’t mean editing doesn’t involve writing.

As far as I’m concerned, writing and editing co-exist. Some people are better at putting words on a blank page, and others are better at improving what’s already there, but both aspects are part of the overall writing process.

Both are needed to make your book the very best it can be.

Editing involves much more than fixing typos and correcting grammar mistakes. 

As you revise your manuscript, you’ll realise you need to come up with new material to fill up plot holes and create consistent, believable characters.

This allows you to write and unleash your creativity as much as during the first draft, which leads me to the next point.

2. Once I start editing, I can’t be creative anymore.

Hearing this always saddens me a little, because writers who believe this are holding themselves back.

They’re putting up boundaries by saying “I’m in the editing process now, that’s the end of any creativity.”

I’d actually say that the complete opposite is true.

There will always be ways to improve your story by adding content, at least during the first couple of drafts. By writing entire scenes, or by adding small details such as a specific way of speaking for a character or elements that show off your world to your reader.

Coming up with these additions is any bit as much about creativity as writing the first draft is, albeit in a different way.

You wouldn’t call a painter who adds detail to a painting after the basic scene has been set non-creative, right? Later additions to your manuscript, and even bits you scrap, showcase your creativity as a writer in a big way.

3. Editing isn’t for me, I’m not good with details.

Yes, at some point during the editing process you will have to focus on details. But you won’t be at that stage for a long time when you’ve only just finished your first draft.

You’ll save yourself an insane amount of time–and frustration–by getting this myth out of your head. During the early stages of editing, focus only on the big things.

If you spend a lot of time meticulously line editing only to realise after a few chapters that the first chapter really needs to go, imagine the frustration.

Instead, focus on the main points during the first couple of editing rounds: find plot holes, spot character inconsistencies and make sure the timing throughout your novel makes sense.

As long as you’re not sure if the plot makes sense or if you’re going to have to add or remove characters, forget about spelling and grammar. It makes no difference at this point. Silence that inner nit-picker. 

And once you do get to the point where details become important, there are a lot of free ways to get help! Beta readers, online writing communities, writing apps… The world is your oyster.

4. My novel needs to be finished in X drafts.

There seems to be this common misconception going around that it’s best to finish a book in as few drafts as possible.

Let me tell you something: We’re not playing golf here.

Writing a novel is a process composed of many, many steps. A process that takes time.

More often than not, the timing expectations we set for ourselves are unrealistic. And when we fail to meet them, we feel inadequate.

Writing a novel is about accepting our limits, and about letting the writing process run its course without forcing it.

I like to compare the writing and editing process to polishing a diamond. When looking at the rough diamond, there is no way to tell how much polishing it will need to shine the brightest.

Save yourself a headache and disappointment, and let the process run its course.
Take things one step at a time. It’s okay if it takes a while.

Give yourself time.

Did you find the debunking of these editing misconceptions helpful? Do you want to add one to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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4 common editing misconceptions


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