Six Things to Know about Self-Editing for Newbie Writers

Editing your book is one of the most horrifying parts of the book-writing process. Usually, self-edit is the stage right before professional editing, which occurs when you have completed writing the rough draft of your novel and it is time for you to polish the draft. 

Some writers feel so intimidated by self-editing that they put it off indefinitely. So, if you are currently at this stage, you should know about a few things before you edit your book. 

By knowing the following things, you will change your mindset about self-editing, and the process will feel less traumatic for you. 

Get Over It

Yes – you read this right. You need to get over the fact that you need to self-edit. Of course, it is the editor’s job to edit your manuscript as they are supposed to edit your manuscript. Read it again – the editor’s job is to edit your manuscript, not your rough draft. 

It is impossible to create a perfect book after a single attempt. When you finally read over your rough draft, you will understand what a mess your rough draft is. You can never send a rough draft to an editor because if you do so, it will be similar to asking them to rewrite the entire book for you. 

Now, it isn’t a professional editor’s job to rewrite the book for you – it is essentially your job. You will have to edit your manuscript several times to the point where you get it as polished as you possibly can on your own.

Trust the Process

At this point, you might feel that you are almost done – but – this isn’t the case. A lot of writers complete their first draft and assume that the hardest part is over. The truth is that the editing phase can often take as long or longer than your first draft. 

There are always exceptions – but those often go hand in hand with experience. So, as a newbie writer, you should expect the editing process to be extra long. Of course, it is great to be excited about your writing journey – but – now is not the best time to plan your book release. 

Instead of getting discouraged by how slow the process moves and feeling anxious, as well as the imposter syndrome – it pays to be realistic. Trust the process and understand that the self-editing phase will be a very slow one and even feel tedious. 

It is a Rough Draft for a Reason

Many people start the self-edit through the rough draft for the first time and end up having a nervous breakdown. Of course, you will feel bad because your rough draft is just a rough draft – and like all unfinished things, it is bad. 

When your manuscript is a rough draft it is going through a puberty phase where it goes through all kinds of wonderful and sometimes embarrassing changes. So, don’t be afraid of giving your rough draft some serious self-care every day until you have polished it as well as you possibly can.

The point is – if manuscripts were perfect the first time around – a lot more people would be best-sellers. Of course, you can always rely on freelance book editors to help you with the editing phase – but – only after you have self-edited your rough draft from scratch. 

So, roll up your sleeves and stop beating yourself up for having a rough draft. 

Don’t Fear Mistakes

As a newbie writer, you should know that mistakes are a good thing. The number one reason why newbie writers hate self-editing is not only because it takes tremendous time to self-edit – but – they also feel embarrassed about their mistakes when they re-read their old writing and suddenly you can see all your typos, mistakes, and inconsistencies. 

You might wonder how you didn’t see any of these mistakes any sooner. 

Here is the thing: mistakes are a good thing. And when we say a good thing we mean that mistakes are really a good thing. Your mistakes serve as a reminder that you are constantly improving yourself, and you are becoming a better writer now than you were when you started the manuscript. 

And this is also exactly what you want. You should have the desire to improve and grow in your craft with time and experience. This means that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed every time you make a mistake. If anything – you should feel relieved. 

You should feel happy that you have reached the point where you are capable of correcting your issues. 

Take One Step at a Time 

Starting the self-edit process can be overwhelming because you have to edit an entire book. Now, here is the thing – you don’t have to edit an entire book. If you keep looking at the bigger picture, the entire editing process will feel insurmountable. 

You might have heard it before – if you want to reach a goal, you have to break it into smaller milestones. So, instead of viewing the entire editing process as a way of editing the entire book, you want to take one step at a time and edit a chapter and then the next and the next. 

The thing is that you are not completing a manuscript – you are completing the developmental changes. To make things easier for yourself, you can divide the self-edit into smaller, digestible chunks that you can tackle one at a time.

All you need to do is to tackle your self-edit into smaller parts and play by the rule of inch by inch. By doing so, you will also make the entire editing process so much more enjoyable. 

Take it As an Education

Drafting isn’t the time to worry about the intricacies of grammar and syntax. However, all of this changes when you start the editing process. While it is incredibly important to handle your self-edits in batches – eventually – you have to tackle all of the intricate issues.

You may not be an expert on syntax – or – you might struggle with the use of certain words. Self-editing is the time to figure everything out and educate yourself on how to fix your weaknesses. 

Michael K

Leave a Reply

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