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Why Editing Is Hard

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Fixing Your Own Mess

In a recent chat with a dear friend, who uncoincidentally also happens to be a talented life coach, the topic of editing came up. Through our conversation, she helped me recognize just how much I despise editing. I fear it and I hate it to my bones.

My hate of editing is part of why I enjoy livestreaming and podcasting. While those also require some editing, most others will understand not taking the time to edit every spoken word of each video or audio file you create. But when it is written down? Whoo… we let the judgement fly!

So, in this post, I’ll share some of my thoughts that helped me get over my fear and hatred of editing, and share some tips or ideas you might want to try incorporating into your editing process.

Words Have No Power, So It’s Going to Be Okay

The only reason we believe words have power is because of the soul behind it. Any power we perceive does not come from the word itself, but from the connection between a human’s thoughts and their unique perspective on that word.

For example, if any English-speaker were to be dropped off in some foreign nation that has never even heard of the English language, any words you use will not have any effect on either party. Communication will completely depend on reading body language, voice intonation, or actions being taken.

Also, in this hypothetical situation, you have instantly become the worst “writer” in that nation. So, there is no reason to fear your own writing or words not being good enough. Your desire to express yourself is always the most important thing. And that is where the value of editing is most seen. Not to be correct or more powerful, but to express yourself more clearly.

To put it another way, try thinking of a word as a car or a vehicle. But a vehicle will never go anywhere without any fuel such as gas or electricity. The fuel comes from the mind and soul of the individual who was given access to a vehicle without being told what to do with it.


A Few Quotes That Come to Mind

“Write without fear. Edit without mercy.”

The concept that words have no power is a big part of why I love that quote. The power does not come from the words, but from the soul behind it. If words have power on their own, it becomes an impossibility to write or speak without fear. But since I believe they do not, this whole thing called writing and editing is just a process in self-improvement.

Oh yeah… and another quote that comes to mind regarding all of this:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”


Only You Can Fully Believe in Yourself

Despite my practice of no longer fearing words, I still hate editing.

But if I ain’t gonna do it, no one else will. Even when others tell me they will do it or that they want to… Unless there is money involved. And actually, even when money is involved it can be a struggle. (I tried Fiverr. Didn’t work out.) Why? Because, the first step in editing can only be done by the original author. If that step is not taken, then even the most talented of editors will struggle.

Now, I understand the people who offer to help truly do come to me with the greatest of intentions and also believe in me. However, no matter who it is, others will never believe in me as much as I can myself. Because no one can know me better than me. And that is the same for every one of us.

So, believe in yourself. Invest in yourself. Getting decently good at anything worth working for in life is very hard and takes a lot of reps. And taking the first step towards accumulating those reps comes from believing in yourself more than others around you.

Eventually, hiring a professional editor can also help tremendously. But that comes later.

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The Editing Tip That Changed My Life

I must first give you fair warning, my editing process has been a ‘work in progress’ since the day I became literate, and I doubt it will ever be fully complete. Editing is as complicated and unique as the author who wrote their piece of work, so there is always room for improvement.

But there is one editing tool that changed my view on editing from “Oh God… I hate editing so much,” into “Man editing sucks… but I can do it!”

And that tool was: Record Yourself

Save an audio file of you reading your work. Pause the recording to make edits whenever it doesn’t sound or feel right as you are saying it out loud. As soon as I made this habit the center of my editing process, it has worked wonders in my writing productivity.

Another bonus from this step, is that when you are finished, you will also have a handy dandy audio file you can use for an audio book or audio blog. (I would recommend first trying the free program Audacity for this. And here are some quick audio editing hints: Effects>Noise Reduction>Normalize)

My last piece of advice regarding this style of editing is to enjoy the imperfections in writing and editing. I’ve had many times where I thought “ugh… this isn’t my best effort… but oh well! It read out-loud naturally enough to post!”

Getting used to reading and recording myself when my writing is not yet polished was very hard at first, but I was so glad I did not give up.

Recording myself reading and editing as I go along, has been a life changer for me and my writing process. It gives me the confidence to publish works more frequently and helps me self-monitor my quality control.


Other Tips/Suggestions

Tip #1 — Take Breaks

You’ve heard of writer’s block, right? Well, there is editor’s block too. At least for me there is…

And sometimes all that is needed is an extended mental break. Try getting up and taking a walk when you feel frustrated with editing. If that doesn’t work, and you are not on a tight schedule, then maybe allow yourself to sleep on it before getting back to it the next morning.

Just be sure to not get used to putting it off until you feel it is your panic that keeps pushing you to edit. Taking a break is good when you use it to get back into a flow-like state for editing, but it is not a good idea to take a break just so you force yourself into having a “Omg, I have to get this done asap!” state of mind.

Tip #2 — Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Have you ever read over something you’ve posted or published, and then had the burning desire to either fix/edit the crap out of it? Or if that wasn’t possible, maybe you just felt really embarrassed and did your best to forget you ever wrote it?

For me personally, it is often the case that I went a bit too fast and loose with my editing process. So when frustration rises up, try closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and remind yourself that slow and steady wins the race.

Tip #3 — Get a Second Set of Eyes on It

If you find that your normal editing process is not working, it is possible that it just needs a new set of eyes on it to guide you towards proper adjustments before starting your editing process all over again. Now, this can be difficult to find, as most people tend to avoid helping others with editing like the plague. Or, they just rip your heart out from their editing process, wish you the best, and move on with their life. Either way, the writing you are working on probably needed to have someone else take a look at it to give you a different perspective. Even if that perspective may be mostly garbage.

But one perk of any of these interactions, is better visibility and understanding of the people around you. The more times you ask for another opinion, the more information you acquire on not only what your piece of writing may need, but also who may be fit or unfit to be one of your helpers/editors/checkers.

Sometimes that visibility is a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing. But it’s always a thing.

Conclusion: You Can Do It.

I still despise editing to my core… But, here’s the good news: the best editor will always end up being the original creator of the work: you. You will know your voice and your message in your writing better than anyone else. So, no matter what, you have the final call on what will eventually be published or posted. You have the power. And you can do it!

Let me know what editing tips, tools, or techniques you use that I could try adding to my editing routine!



I hope these thoughts are helpful. Thank you so much for reading. I Agape-Love you all.

Until next time, God bless.

This post is based off of my 5 Minutes of Failure video series

For those of you who cannot read, <-- click here.

© 2022 BK Johnsen

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