The Self-Editing Curse

I’m working to finish this novel, but I’m struggling. I had hoped that by setting a self-publishing date and a “must be done” by date, I would kick the self-editing habit, but I seem to be stuck with it forever.

I started with an excellent idea. I mapped it out, wrote notes, and organized all the information that I needed to begin writing. And then I did. I started writing my novel out by hand, and all went well. I was writing for an hour or two at a time, and I thought I was in a groove.

But then I stopped to type it up. A friend offered to give it a read and rather than giving her my hand-written pages, I wanted to provide her with a typed manuscript for ease. I also wanted to ensure that I had an easy way for her to write notes without marking up the pages and making them even more confusing. She gave me great feedback too, and her feedback allowed me to flesh out the story even more.

But I continued to type rather than returning to the manuscript. And that was my mistake. Two chapters in by hand and once I typed it up I couldn’t pull myself away from editing the chapters. I kept editing, and eventually I became discouraged. I went from loving my story to despising it. I went from thinking I had something good to feeling like I should give up writing altogether.

And now, things look bleak. As I wrestle to get these words on the screen, I wonder if I should give up and start over, go back to writing by hand, or walk away for a while and risk missing my deadline.

How do you stop with the self-editing? How do you keep writing despite the urge to go back and change everything?

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Kay Denise

Kay is from The Bronx but is currently living her life's dream in Arizona. Writing is what breathes life into her world and when she does not do it, she feels off kilter. She is on a mission to finish and publish a compilation of short stories before the end of the year. She's well on her way, yet is often her own worse enemy.

2 Replies to “The Self-Editing Curse

  1. Hi Kay,

    I hope you can get yourself back on course. I’m having similar problem with my novel that I set a date of December 2016 or January 2017 at the latest and each day, I sit and look at the screen.

    I can’t write by hand for any length of time, so I have to use the computer. It’s all a mess. I finished it up with NaNoWriMo 2015 and then lost a great deal of my work (another story) and it just hasn’t been easy to recover since that.

    I don’t have an answer for you about editing while writing because I catch myself doing it all the time.

    Maybe we can figure out something to help us and all writers that suffer from this affliction.

    1. Sorry to hear about this. It’s so hard, isn’t it. Maybe the key is to just keep writing. To write and not reread. I think that is why so many do well on NanNoWriMo, because it forces you to shut off the editor. It’s just so hard for me.

      Thanks for commenting!

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