3 Essential Editing Tips: Oh the Feels! (Part 1)


Ezra and I are preparing for the October “Plan Your Novel” course (homestudy version here) and students are looking forward to writing their novels.

Several of you wrote me last week and let me know you had questions about editing your novels, so I want to share with you three essential editing tools.

Are there more than three? Of course.

These are the ones that I use all the time.

Today I’ll start with one — on how we feel about editing.

I know editing your novel can feel overwhelming, confusing, and a downright hair-pulling experience. I know it did for me at first. Especially the overwhelming part.

So much to keep track of. Where to begin? And the one that haunted me at night… Is this book any good?

So I put off editing for months and months, and even years. At some point I realized that I’d never get my book really done if I didn’t actually face the bugaboo monster of editing.

So I turned and faced the mountainous task.

And I realized I was facing in the wrong direction.

I was so focused on myself and that wasn’t working.

The end product wasn’t for me, not really. It was for the reader.

[Click to Tweet about this (you can editing before sending).]

#1: Feeling Into the Reader’s Experience

It’s not up to you to decide if the book is good. Yes, we all need to learn how to discern a good book, but we don’t write for ourselves alone. We write for the reader.

The biggest mental switch a writer needs to make is from self-focused — which you needed to be in the creative flow — to reader focused.

Here’s an exercise to experience what I mean and to help you make the switch:

Imagine you’re sitting at a table with your reader. In front of you both is your completed first draft.

Notice how you feel about your book. Just notice and don’t judge the maelstrom that may be churning inside of you. Do identify one or two emotions, and just notice them.

Identify your thoughts that run through your mind.

Lastly, is there any action you’d like to take in regards to your manuscript?

Now pretend you can float up out of your chair and sink into your reader, so that you are her or him.
Allow yourself to align with their heart, and lungs, and fingers and toes.

Now look at the writer’s manuscript. What do you notice? What do you feel?

Appreciate that awareness. Acknowledge and notice what thoughts may arise. Also, notice any action you may wish to take.

Take a snapshot of this moment and float on up out of the reader, and bring your consciousness back into you.

Take a breath or two and reorient into your body.

Wiggle your fingers and toes and stand up. Now sit down. Okay, you’ve landed. Oh, stick out your tongue and make a silly face. Good. You’re you.


What did you notice? What Aha or new awareness did you have with this exercise? And how do you feel now about your manuscript?

And what would you like next?

Please comment below and let me know your thoughts. I’m always interested in hearing from you!

All my best,


PS. Parts 2 and 3 in this series here and here.

PPS. If you’d like to talk to a writer’s coach about help with your editing, click here to schedule your call.


Henrietta The Dragon Slayer trilogy, 3-Book Set, by Beth Barany

Award-winning novelist and creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany has been making up fantasy and adventure stories all her life. She writes magical tales of romance and adventure for women and girls to empower them to be the heroes of their own lives. She empowers novelists to write, publish, and market their genre novels.

You may also like...