How Helping Yourself
Can Also Help Your Writing

Editing Advice - How Helping Yourself Can Also Help Your Writing - Willow Editing Blog Post for Writers and Editors

Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed? So much to do, but no time to do it in.

You can’t enjoy the moments meant to help you relax because all you can think about is everything that’s still on your to-do list.

That’s is not a healthy way to live.

Trust me. I did for about two years until it completely burned me out.

As I started my master’s degree, the students’ association I was a member of also elected me onto their board.

By the end of that year, before the board year came to a close, I started a wonderful full-time internship at a publishing house for children’s books.

Before the internship ended, a local bookstore offered me a part-time job, something I had been dreaming of for years.

How could I say no?

On top of everything, social anxiety weighed me down.

I was doing things I was incredibly excited about but still felt like a failure because I couldn’t enjoy them.

Every little thing became a chore, including things I did because I wanted to relax like reading and writing. Because I felt so short of time, I scheduled these things to make sure they happened.

By doing so, they became yet another item on the already enormous to-do list I forced upon myself, and I’d feel guilty if I didn’t get them done.

I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of becoming burned out, even by doing things you love to do. You force yourself to do things you want to do because you feel they won’t happen otherwise.

When it got to the point where I burst out crying for ‘no reason’ almost daily and I kept wishing I’d catch a good bout of the flu so I could just lay in bed and do nothing, I reached out to a therapist.

She helped me see something valuable that still helps me to this day:

Everything we do is the result of a choice.

A lot of things feel necessary but, in the end, they really aren’t so urgent.

You don’t have to do the dishes every day.

Will it be easier to manage if you do?

Sure.

Will the kitchen look tidier?

Absolutely.

Will something terrible happen if you don’t do the dishes every day?

Probably not.

I’m taking the dishes as an easy example here, but the same goes for a lot of choices.

Including writing and editing.

It is so easy to get stuck in a vicious circle of negativity: I should work on my book more. I didn’t hit my word goal. I should have finished editing that manuscript by now.

Take a moment to ask yourself: By which standards?

As far as I know, there are no general guidelines for how long it should take someone to write a book.

So show yourself some kindness and take off the pressure. Make writing a choice, not something you have to do on top of everything else.

Do you want to write? By all means, make the time to do it. Set up a routine.

But realise this: The world won’t end if you don’t write. Your progress won’t suddenly be lost. Tomorrow is a new day.

Also, know that ‘working on a book’ doesn’t have to mean putting words to paper. Thinking about your story is also a form of writing. Thinking about changes you want to make is a form of editing.

Be wary of the pressure you put on yourself throughout the writing process.

When writing or editing starts to feel like a chore, alarm bells should start to ring.

You and only you decide for how long and how often you write and edit.

You’re the one who decides how to feel after a writing session, or after a missed writing session.

If you feel negatively, ask yourself: Why am I feeling like this? Can I make the choice to feel differently about the situation?

When you plan to write 1000 words every time you sit down and then you don’t, you end up feeling inadequate. Maybe even guilty. Why put that pressure on yourself?

Instead of setting the goal at 1000, why not start with 250 words? Instead of feeling like you should write every day, why not try a binge writing-session every two weeks or every month?

Make your goal something you’re absolutely sure you can handle.

That way, you feel like a boss every time you hit the target. Whoo!

That’s the feeling you want to associate with writing and editing. And you are the only one who can make that happen.

By being kind to yourself.

Give the writing process the time it needs, without comparing to others. Some people write fast, others don’t. One doesn’t lead to a better end result than the other. Don’t let social media drive you crazy.

Your writing process is your own. No one else’s.

You can influence a lot of what happens in your life and how you deal with it by making conscious choices.

Which steps will you be taking to show yourself some kindness and make the writing process more fun? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

If you found this blog post helpful, help other writers find it by sharing the picture below on Pinterest!

Editing Advice - How Helping Yourself Can Also Help Your Writing - Willow Editing Blog Post for Writers and Editors

10 Comments

Gursimrat · 16/07/2018 at 15:49

Hi Elzevera, good post. Writing and self editing feels a difficult chore sometimes. I feel like I sit and will write lot but could not find even few words. For this I have started writing in the morning and write only outline for the article. This has helped little bit. Thanks for this beautiful piece of writing.

Elzevera K. · 16/07/2018 at 16:19

Thank you for your kind words! The important thing when writing and/or self-editing start to feel like a chore, is to figure out where the resistance is coming from and how to counter that. Figure out where you can show yourself some kindness to make the process easier and more enjoyable 🙂 Writing in the morning when you’ve previously written at a later time is a great way of putting that into practice! When changes like that help a little bit, ask yourself how you could make another small change that could help a little bit more. That way, in the end, all the little bits add up to a big bit.

Andy Roessler · 16/07/2018 at 16:55

Excellent article and sage advice. I think it extremely wise of you to point out that we need to sincerely make efforts to take care of ourselves and that it isn’t a selfish thing but a necessity. Great job!

Elzevera · 16/07/2018 at 19:13

Hi Andy, thank you for your lovely comment! Having experienced myself what it’s like to forget your own needs and force your way through things you do because you want to enjoy them, I know I don’t want anyone else to have to experience that. Self-care is necessary, and it takes a different shape for everyone. Just like the perfect writing routine will take a different shape for everyone. Learning to listen to yourself and act accordingly is one of the most important things you can learn as a writer (and a human being in general), I think.

Poe · 17/07/2018 at 02:22

I really like your approach of being flexible and individualizing the process. It’s a freeing idea!

Elzevera · 17/07/2018 at 05:55

Thank you! I’m glad my approach resonates with you and has a liberating effect ^^

Lilly · 17/07/2018 at 09:57

Beautiful site with fab advice.I started writing two short stories for children and has to do the editing.I will definitely sign up for your checklist.

Elzevera · 17/07/2018 at 12:27

Thank you very much! I’m glad you find my advice useful, and happy to hear you want to use the checklist 🙂 I hope you’ll find it helpful!

Emily · 21/07/2018 at 04:18

I always like reading more perspectives on writing and editing. I find the writing part to be the most fun and the editing part to be the least fun. I like writing for a set amount of time rather than daily word counts work out great. Love your comment about not comparing yourself to others. I think everyone could stand to compare ourselves to others less in life.

Elzevera · 22/07/2018 at 09:52

Hi Emily, thanks for your kind words! It’s very common for writers to prefer the writing part to the editing part of the writing process, but I think you’ll find that there’s actually plenty of writing and creativity involved in editing as well, which may make the process more fun for you ^^ You might like my other blog posts How Editing in Stages Can Save Your Sanity and 4 Common Misconceptions About Editing for more information on how to make editing fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like...

Sign up for the newsletter