Self-Editing: 3: Overcoming Fear of Self-Editing

Self-Editing: 3. Overcoming Fear of Self-Editing
By Norma J Hill (aka Pen and Paper Mama) © 2021

In our previous series for writers, we discussed and provided worksheets for “Self Exploration For Writers,” “Your Writing Life,” “Author Considerations Beyond Just Writing,”  “Planning Your Writing,” and “Editing Levels.”  In this new series, “Self-Editing,” we will explore:

  1. Self-Editing Your First Draft
  2. Some Practical Self-Editing Tips
  3. Overcoming Fear of Self-Editing
  4. Self-Edit with Fresh Eyes, Mind, and Body
  5. Writing and Self-Editing Tools and Resources
  6. Your Self-Editing Team
  7. Do I Really Need a Self-Editing Team?

At the end of each post in the series, there is a link to a downloadable and printable PDF copy on which you can write your responses. Put them in a binder or Duotang-type report folder (you can continue to add to your binder from the previous series). Then, periodically along your writing journey, return to your answers, read what you noted previously, and add new thoughts and experiences. Through this process, you’ll end up with a wonderful record of your writer’s journey.

3. Overcoming Fear of Self-Editing

Are you afraid to self-edit? Try these tips to overcome your fear:

Practice editing someone else’s work, or work on editing exercises in a handbook, or even edit magazine articles, anthology stories, or blogs you notice need improvement. You’ll feel less self-conscious as you practice on others’ writing.  
Practice self-editing with small pieces of writing you’ve created: flash fiction, short stories, articles, poems, blog posts, even emails or letters.
If you only have a book-length manuscript, do a thorough self-edit on just one chapter. Go through the whole self-editing process, step-by-step, then apply what you’ve learned from that section to the rest of the manuscript—chapter by chapter if you’re still nervous. Finally, self-edit it all the way through.  
Teach or mentor young or beginning writers, individually or in a group. You’ll become a better writer, too, and you’ll discover self-editing is a valuable learning experience, even a fun adventure. If you work with children, you’ll find they admire your skills, which can be very encouraging for you.
Hire a writing coach (or editor who also coaches) to take you through the process step-by-step.  
Attend conferences, workshops, or courses led by experienced editors. Ideally, search out sessions that include hands-on practice or at least lots of Q&A time after a lecture.  



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