How to Edit Your Writing Fearlessly with One Simple Tip

You spend hours perfecting your story or article, only to find out later that you need to make changes.

Cue the horror music.

Writing can sometimes feel so fragile. Especially when writing a fictional tale, your words feel so personal and special to you as the writer. Your world, your characters—they’re basically your “babies”. Not to mention the fact that you’ve spent so much of your precious time carving out every element, fleshing out all the behind-the-scenes details that perhaps only you will ever know of. Who likes to feel like their time was wasted?

The backspace is not always our friend, but a lot of times, it really is. I’ve learned it’s important to be comfortable with letting go of your work when it’s necessary, whether your editor or client wants you to edit your work, or you can tell that it has to be done.

But, how do we accept that we need to edit or completely trash something we’ve put so much time and effort into?

I know how hard it is. For the past few years, I’ve been casually working on writing my first novel and this concept was something that took me a long time to finally be comfortable with. I definitely did not want to part with the words or scenes I’d carefully crafted.

But, as time went on, I realized the direction of my novel was not where I wanted it to go, so I put my feelings aside and drastically changed the ending of the story. I realized it was okay to do this, as silly as that sounds. These changes were necessary for me to create that story I’d envisioned all along. I’m still not finished with my novel because I have editing block (that’s a thing, right?) and I still need to make more plot changes; my story just doesn’t feel complete yet. Sigh.



My Not-So-Unique Advice

I suppose this method almost defeats the purpose of “finding peace when editing”, depending on how you look at it… But, my one basic tip to deal with editing would be to create a new document where you paste bits (certain phrases/special words, scenes) that you need to remove from your work— bits that you like, but that just aren’t right for this particular piece.

Later, you can look through this document and decide if you want to use any of it for the project it was meant for, or you can even use it for another project you do in the future. That is, of course, if you still like what you’ve written. If you grow as a writer and look back over this document, you might just be surprised to see how far you’ve come!

I’ve used this method and it’s been super helpful. I might end up trashing the whole document anyway, but at least I have these little bits just in case.

Now, I’m certain there are many other, better pieces of advice out there that can further aid the editing blues; this is just one that I’ve used over and over again for different projects. Again, the first step is to accept that editing is (most likely) for the greater good. You just don’t have to say goodbye altogether to those bits of writing you love. They’ll just live in another document, ready to make their appearance when (and if) the time is appropriate.

How do you feel when you have to edit or delete your work? Are you as attached to your writing as much as I am?


[Photo by Dmitry Ratushny and Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash]

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