E – Editing: Taking Out The Blood, Sweat, And Tears

If you’ve read any of my archives, you might have fallen upon a piece in which I decide that the hardest part about writing is editing.  (Actually, I don’t think that was the end result, but you’ll just have to read it to find out.)

Truth be told, though, editing is really hard.  Revising, editing, cutting your own work is giving away a piece of yourself.  You know the long hours you put into that piece to get it just right, and sure that word might not be crucial to the story, but you spent an hour flipping through dictionaries, thesauri, and reference guides online until you found the right one, and now you have to cut the whole sentence because that paragraph lags a little.  I’ve sat staring at the sentence or paragraph that needs to be cut reading it and rereading it trying to talk myself into believing that the story really is better without it.

And it’s hard enough taking your own critique and edits.  Some of the suggestions I’ve received from friends and teachers, while helpful, have been difficult to hear and I’ve even been known to argue with the “offending” party trying to defend why my MC and her love interest meeting at a bar and having a drink for a page and a half is so important.  (It wasn’t, but it took me two hours to write all that dialog.)

Anyone who writes knows why the editing hurts so badly.  Because we know what went into those words.  We know the hours sitting in front of the computer, typewriter, or notebook trying to figure what to write next.  We know how hard it was to get that scene just right.  We know how many cups of coffee (or cigarettes or beers or wine – or all of the above) were imbibed to make that chapter, that paragraph or that sentence perfect.  And after all that work, how can you just tap the DEL button and move on?





Filed under writing

2 responses to “E – Editing: Taking Out The Blood, Sweat, And Tears

  1. Just read a book whose author talked about this, and how she edited her own work and found it painful. Not being a writer I don’t know; but think it makes sense. My SIL is a published author and edits for others which she says is better then editing your own and that’s it’s important to learn not to take it personally. Here through A-Z traveling suitcase A-Z

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      It is definitely an important lesson that all writers (and artists in general) have to learn: not to take things personally. Art is subjective, and not everyone is going to agree on what’s good, or even what is art. The important thing for me was hearing all of the suggestions, critique, and advice with an open mind. But really, your friend is right. It’s so much easier to edit someone else’s work than it is to edit your own!

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