Most writers I talk to hate editing their own writing.
Either they believe their writing is already perfect, failing to find any mistakes or understand why they should look for ways to improve it;
Or, they find so many things wrong they lose the motivation to ever write again.
Sounds fun, right?
The reason self-editing feels like pulling teeth? It means forcing yourself to critique your creativity without personal judgment.
Creativity comes from the heart. Any time we make something creative—whether you wrangle words, fancy filmmaking, make music, or prefer painting—we're attaching a little piece of ourselves into our work.
As humans, we're inherently self-critical. We're hard-wired to look for mistakes we made, things we could do better, and opportunities for improvement. This voice sounds ridiculous! Look at all these typos! Every sentence is garbage! I should move to Easter Island and become a hermit!
The editing process exacerbates that voice inside of us. It forces you to scrutinize your own voice, pick apart the good from the bad, and tell yourself you could have done better. Forcing yourself to actually look for errors feels no less painful than, say, plucking out an eye.
And when you receive criticism on what you've created—especially when that feedback comes from yourself—it's impossible not to see that as anything other than criticism on who you are. Man, how personal does that feel?
So what do we do? We avoid it. We procrastinate. We feel like we're being punished. We join the other hermits on Easter Island.
And it's a shame: the editing stage is as important—if not more so—than the writing. It's where ideas are shaped, arguments are sharpened, and words are polished to become the best creative work possible.
So how do you push past that fear? Simple: Do the work. Add editing to your schedule for everything you write. The more times you go through the process, the easier it becomes to separate yourself from your work.
After all, I've heard Easter Island is getting pretty full.
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