Self-Edit Like a Pro: Two Tips to Help You With the Rewriting Process

Liam J Cross

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Believe it or not, being an editor doesn’t actually make the rewriting process any less painstaking for me. I know that editing manuscripts is technically my job, but I hate doing it just as much as I’m guessing you do. Aside from all the coffee drinking, editing is terrible…

Don’t get me wrong, editing other people’s books is a different ballgame. I love editing other people’s work. That side of editing brings me inner peace and happiness of the soul. But damn, when it comes to the time where I have to edit my own writing, well, I hate that process just as much as the next struggling writer.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s always just something so soul-draining about editing our own work. I think it’s because we already know what’s coming. We’ve read each page a hundred times before, so we don’t encounter that thrill of reading something for the first time – where you wonder what is going to happen next. I think that’s what saps all the fun out of it.

Then, because of this, we begin to hate our writing, and start to believe that we should just give up and call it quits all together. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who endures this process each time you try and edit – I can promise you that.

In fact, now is the time to celebrate editing, because I’m back with some more tips that can really help you when it comes to the rewriting process.

Sometimes I actually consider myself to be a bit of a life saver in these instances; some sort of super hero who is here to aid writers in their quest to create better fiction. I know, I know, it’s a pretty lame super power, but hey, we all have to be useful somehow, right?

And my use is right here.

Don’t Rush, Be Patient

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I know how it gets. You’ve just finished the exhilarating journey of emotion that is the first draft, and now you find yourself at that stage where it’s time to cut that down to size, kill the rawness of it and make it tidier.


It sounds like a whole lot of adult stuff that none of us quite want to accept. As creatives, we want to sit and create until our hearts are content. And then we want to create some more. There’s nothing worse than the thought of having all the fun taken away – but that’s exactly what the editing process does.

The simple fact of it is, if you want to write a good book, you’re going to have to spend a whole lot of time editing it.

So this tip is plain and simple: don’t fall into the trap. Don’t fall into the trap of rushing through the rewriting process with no sense of direction. We spend months upon months constructing our first drafts, so what makes you think that editing said draft should only take a few days?

If that’s the case, and it does only take you a few days, you’re probably the most talented writer on this earth, because in reality, you should be spending just as much (if not more) time editing your story as you did writing it. And that’s just the truth of it.

So the first tip today is to recognise how difficult editing is and how long it takes. From there, you shouldn’t find yourself overwhelmed when it’s time to put in the work.

Edit Often and With A Plan

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This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. You’ve already realised how difficult editing is, and that it is a long, draining process, so now you have to realise what it takes to stay committed to the cause.

I always advise my clients to adopt the same routine in editing their work as they did when they wrote it. What I mean by this is fairly simple. I mean, you should spend the same amount of time each day editing your work as you spent each day whilst you were writing your first draft.

So for example, let’s say whilst you were drafting, you spent five days a week working on your novel and wrote in sessions of three to four hours in length – this is the routine you should adopt when rewriting your book. Spend five days of your week rewriting, and work for three to four ours at a time. It’s this routine that will get you through the process because it is a routine that you’re already used to.

Writing a first draft is sort of like your own personal time. It’s those few hours in each day where you get to just sit and forget about the world for a little, and it’s such a beautiful feeling. So my theory is, if we can replicate this feeling in the rewriting stages, and transfer that same happiness over whilst editing, then we’ll have a much more productive and fun time tidying up our manuscripts.

It usually works for me, and I hope it works for you too.

The Rewrite Beckons

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Okay, you’ve procrastinated for long enough now. Get off my website and get back to that rewrite – you aren’t going to write a bestseller scrolling through my blog all day. Actually, maybe with the excellence of my tips, you may gather all the tools you need to do just that…

On second thought, stick around a little while longer, I really enjoy the company. No, seriously, please stay. I get a little lonely sometimes. Oh, oh… Okay. Your mouse is headed for that red cross up there. Okay, that’s cool. I guess I’ll see you next time.

What? Crying? Me? Of course not… *SOBS INTO KEYBOARD*

Until next time, friend, happy writing to you.


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3 thoughts on “Self-Edit Like a Pro: Two Tips to Help You With the Rewriting Process

  1. Liam, good to know I’m doing it right! I’m a copyeditor and edit as I go. Read over and edit again. I’m a planner not a pantser, so it’s slow & go for me. Research to include accurate history takes the most time. Then where to put the info so it doesn’t read like an info dump! Coming up with dialogue & narrative. Any tips on “how to?” Thanks! 📚 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Christine. In terms of coming up with dialogue and narrative, I’d say you should stick with where your characters take you. I have no idea how I reach a certain stage in my plot sometimes, but I just end up there. I think following the characters on their journey is the best way to do this – almost as if they’re guiding you as opposed to the other way around. I think dialogue is the same. I just let my characters have a conversation and then tidy it up at a later time. It puts so much fun into writing when you let them lead the way!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Liam for commenting back. That’s exactly what I do. Just finished a piece of writing with long dialogue sections of history, and I just got into their conversations as they spoke. It was fun. Now i need to clean it up. Christine


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