Most writers are perfectionists with their writing. I don’t know if it comes from a desire to be flawless or a desire to not have our writing torn apart by someone else. Whatever the reason may be, it can turn you into an over-editing tyrant of your work.
If you are nodding your head, you may be an over-editor. If you want to become a better writer, you have to stop this habit. You can’t always improve what you write, but you can always make it worse.
Here are five reasons you need to stop the over-editing now.
Over-editing removes your voice
All writers leave a little piece of themselves in their work. Whether it is a novel, article, blog, or Instagram post, there is part of you in there. Maybe it’s in the flow or in the choice of words. Whatever it is, your life-blood is in it.
The more you edit, the harder it will be to find yourself in your work. Once the piece becomes unrecognizable to you, it is likely no longer good. And, it’s certainly not something the client wanted.
Most clients choose their writers because the flow and word choice resonate with them. Don’t let over-editing remove you from your work.
It doesn’t have to be perfect
Say it with me, “my writing doesn’t have to be perfect.” Now, repeat it. Say it over and over until you start to believe it.
This one is hard. Trust me. There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to writing. And, with the ease of digital print, corrections can be made even after your article is published.
So, do your regular once (or twice)-over editing process and submit it for another set of eyes.
You no longer see mistakes
How many times have you found by checking your work with an app like Grammarly and found errors that your 3,241 read-throughs didn't notice? Incorrect words, simple grammatical errors, and misspellings happen. Your eyes won’t catch everything.
After you stare at your writing for so long, your brain fills in the gaps. So, when the word should be “start” but you write “stare,” you may read the correct word in your head. This is the whole reason we have editors. If we could see and know all of our mistakes, we would put editors out of jobs.
Over-editing stalls improvement
When you over-edit, you lessen your ability to improve. You need to have someone else point out your areas of improvement. Once someone points out errors or weaknesses, you’ll start to recognize it as you write.
The best advice I ever received from an editor was to imagine sitting across from a friend over coffee while I write. This advice helped me develop an excellent knack for conversational writing for a healthcare client.
If I had never heard this from her, I would probably still be struggling with their blog posts.
You will drain your brain
If you want a raging case of writer's block, keep over-editing. You can only rewrite something so many times before it no longer works.
If you have over-editing tendencies, it is time to stop. Give your writing to someone else to edit. Let them point out common mistakes and nourish your writer’s soul. Find an editor who not only edits but guides you to become a better writer.