Monday, October 18, 2010

The Seven Stages of Editing Grief

I'm back from the Muse Online Conference.  I'm still processing everything, but I can share this article with you now.  The author gave us permission as long as we gave her credit.  Here you go:

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!

The Red Pen Speaks

© KMcGrath 2010


  1. I love this. Especially since I'm still in self-editing mode (rewrites) and I'm still going through all these stages. With the author and the editor arguing inside my head, it gets really loud in there sometimes.

  2. This is great. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I relate to each and every one of these:-) Thanks for sharing!

  4. Haha, amazing how things turn around. :)

  5. Thanks for sharing. The conference was wonderful, as usual.