How to get over the fear of editing


I got a comment on one of my Instagram posts the other day, lovely writer friend @thisbusybooklife posted that she hadn’t written in a while and needed to back to editing her first draft.

‘How do you get over the fear of getting started?’ she asked, ‘I know different people have different methods …but just how? Writing it was easy. This is hard AF.’

I hear that.

I mean, I really hear that as I am in editing hell at the moment, or wait, no, I should rephrase that. I’m in an editing hole.

A giant rabbit hole of an edit that keeps on burrowing itself ever further deeper making it harder to see the light of day and sometimes, giving me the complete FEAR that I’ll never crawl out of it. 

You see, a few months ago, I handed in my novel to my gorgeous editor and we’re going through the process of turning what I gave her, into something that she actually wants.

I’m revising it and editing it and chopping and changing and it’s a challenge. Sometimes an enjoyable challenge, and sometimes not. But here is my process.

And as always, please remember that it might work for you, it might not. But if you get a couple of points then it’s been worth me writing it out so here goes.


First off, write your premise down in one sentence if you can. A couple at most. Trim it down to its bare minimum and write that gold out on a large on a piece of paper.

Stick it somewhere near where you’re going to edit. That premise will be your compass.

It’s what keeps you grounded. In your premise, you should have the spine of the book. The narrative drive, the thing that made you want to write it in the first place. The thing that will make readers pick it up and buy it or take it out on loan at the library.

I know I need that stuff close as I edit as I tend to do a lot of veering off at tangents. As my editor has told me, I like to procrastinate. I think that’s because I really enjoy writing relationships and dialogue, but not all chapters need that stuff in. So keep the north start of your premise somewhere you can read it at all times when editing.


Next step, I like to go over my outline. My outline was the map I used to write my novel and if you haven’t got one, easy. Just do it off your book. Write out a brief synopsis of what happens in each chapter.  Concentrate on several things as you do this, what drives the story forward and what is revealed to the reader in that chapter. As I compare my book to my outline, just focusing on the two points above, I start to see bits that can go. I start to see bits that aren’t driving the story forward or serving it. And now begins the editing.


As you start taking glaringly obvious bits of the book out, other things will jump out at you. Stuff that will need fixing because of what you’ve removed. Things that need adding. Have a notebook handy. Make notes as you go. Remember this is the first edit of many.
So if a characters relationship needs mentioning more in chapter two, or a bit of strengthening needs doing to the dialogue in chapter four, make notes.

I tend to do this in capitals at the start of each chapter as I go along. So on my second edit, I’ll have the notes right there in front of me.


After those two processes are done, next thing is to print the whole thing out and read through. By doing this you’ll see it with fresh eyes and you’ll see even more things that need changing. At this point, I’m so sick of the thing I just send it off, but I know lots of writers will then tell you to put it in a draw and come back to it again in four weeks. Another read through. Another edit, but only you’ll know when it’s done, when it’s ready for your editor to look over.

So that’s kind of my process, it varies with project to project. And I feel differently about it from week to week. At the moment, I’m absolutely loving editing my book but who knows, next week I’ll probably hate it!

So tell me your process? What do you do that’s different?

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