Friday, October 8, 2010

The Seven Stages of Editing Grief

Next week I'll be at the Muse Online Writer's Conference.  I have the entire week reserved to enjoy all the workshops!  Today and next Friday, we'll forego Thirteen Questions in light of the Conference. 

For today, here's a preview of one of my hand-outs for my one-day workshop on editing.  If you'll be at the Conference, please stop in for a visit!  It's called Sacrificing Your Novel to the Editor Gods? at the MuseItUp Publishing forum.

The Seven Stages of Editing Grief
by Karen McGrath

Editing is a process. Sometimes writers go through editing grief. If this happens to you, please don’t feel bad, it’s very common. It’s next to impossible to edit your own work. I’m an editor and I still need one myself. My backyard looks lovely from my kitchen window but I’m sure my neighbor can see the weeds growing near the porch – that I can’t see! We all have blind spots and use comfort words.

My goal is to fix any editing issue while preserving your unique voice in your manuscript. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with an editing change, please let me know so we can work it out.

Here are the stages. They’re funny but they do happen!

1. Denial - "That editor doesn't know what she's talking about. My manuscript was fine 'til she got hold of it."

2. Pain & Guilt - “I can't believe this is such a mess. If only I used that word there, I wouldn't be stung by that stupid red pen."

3. Anger - "What the *%$&# does that chick think she's doing? Does she even know how to write?"

4. Depression - "Why did my publisher ever send me a contract? I should have been an architect."

5. Acquiescence - "Well, maybe I should look at this and see what she has to say. I mean, she's supposed to fix things, right? How bad can it be?"

6. Reconstruction - "Hey, this is fairly decent, in fact some of these changes make the story stand out a little better than before."

7. Hope - "Wow, this is pretty cool. I wonder what else I can fix to make it more compelling?!"

It really is a process. Sometimes when you get done with the first edit, you find so many other things, it’s like layers. Other times you edit something out and discover you liked it better the first way later on. This is all normal, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a grammar pro to write well. And every writer needs an editor!



  1. I'm signed up for your workshop.

  2. I'm going to follow your blog now! I wish I could sign up for your workshop, too. Grr. Anyway, check out my blog as well (if possible) and grace my three Friday Fiction posts with your editor-awesomness. :D
    Looking forward to your next post; I enjoyed this one and I love your picture at the top of the blog!

  3. Huh. I'm confused. How do I follow this blog?

  4. Hi Susanne, I hope to have some good content for you. I'm excited about the Conference!

  5. Hi Alez and welcome! I will check out your blog, thanks for the invite. You can follow through networked blogs which connects through Facebook or Blogger on the sidebar. Refresh the page if the follow buttons have vanished. They do that sometimes, especially after you post.

  6. I mean Alex - and I'm an editor... sheesh! Sorry!

  7. Great list, Karen, and so true! Best wishes at the MuseItUp Publishing Forum. Sounds like a good one!

  8. Karren: lol! That's fine. :D Typos are understandable!
    I'll try refreshing the page to follow. Thanks for the reply.

  9. That's probably the best post on editing I've ever read. Yup, I'm following your blog now.

  10. Thanks Clara, Alex & Michele. :)

    Next year, Alex. You can sign up for the conference in advance, like next week, and get in on all the info coming up.

  11. This is an excellent post on editing and I have some people I'd like to share it with if I may. I would direct them to your link of course.

  12. Thanks, Martha! I sent it to you in an email. :)