Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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April 12, 2024

Author Affirmations for the Editing Phase

by Julie Glover

As I write this article, I’m halfway through my developmental editor’s comments on my manuscript and making the necessary changes to help this book shine. That sounds like a great endeavor, right?

In actuality, it’s a grueling task that makes me wonder, once again, if being a toll booth operator would be more rewarding than this job.

Okay, I may be guilty of hyperbole! But editing is rarely an easy endeavor, and at some point in the process, most writers find themselves frustrated, discouraged, or overwhelmed.

I’m Good Enough…

In such moments, I could use a Stuart Smalley speaking into my ear. Don’t know who that was? Stuart Smalley was a character on Saturday Night Live played by Al Franken in the 1990s whose emotional state was always fragile but he adopted daily affirmations in an attempt to deal with his struggles. He typically ended with the affirmation: “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

For an author, it’s more about whether people will like our book, but since our selves are so wrapped up in the writing, maybe it’s spot on as it is.

In the editing phase, though, I might rework it to:

  • I’m good enough to edit this book.
  • I’m smart enough to edit this book.
  • Doggone it, people will like this book when I’m done!

Does that feel silly to you? It might, especially if you remember the Stuart Smalley character!

But affirmations have their place in life, including for us authors. We might call them something else, but we need those reminders that we can accomplish our goals, we can produce an excellent book, we will reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Affirmations from Other Authors

How about some encouraging words from other authors who’ve been there, done that?

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” – Dr. Seuss

“I have rewritten—often several times—every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” – Vladimir Nabokov

“Dream with your heart.
Write with your soul.
But edit with your head.”
– Jennifer Spredemann

"The main thing I try to do is write as clearly as I can. I rewrite a good deal to make it clear." – E.B. White

“The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color.” – Emma Hill

“Let the reader find that he cannot afford to omit any line of your writing because you have omitted every word that he can spare.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Only God gets it right the first time and only a slob says, "Oh well, let it go, that's what copyeditors are for.” – Stephen King

“Let’s face it: The ‘genius’ stuff happens in the editing process. Most successful writers go through a tedious process of drafting and shaping their content to get something worth sharing.” – Jeff Goins

Affirmations You Can Use

Besides reminding yourself that editing is part of any quality author’s process, how can you find the focus and positivity needed to finish the next draft? Here are a few personal affirmations I recommend:

  • My characters deserve to have their story told.
  • I want to give the reader the kind of book I want—without plot holes or speedbumps.
  • I’ll be happy with the final version when I finish.
  • Someone out there needs to read my story.
  • I know how to write, and that includes rewriting.
  • I’ve come this far, and I can keep going until it’s a great book.

Rewards Are Affirming

Affirmations needn’t all be verbal. You can affirm yourself in the editing phase with external rewards as well.

I once motivated myself to finish a final edit on a novel by dangling a roller coaster ride as my personal reward. I was thrilled to complete the book, but the thrill of the Boardwalk Bullet in Kemah, Texas was like whipped cream on my ice cream sundae.

Some rewards that can feel affirming:

  • Watching a TV show or movie after a certain number of pages have been edited
  • Scheduling a massage for when the manuscript is done
  • A weekend getaway with your significant other or friend when the edit is complete
  • Editing outside on your back porch or another beloved setting
  • Small purchases as you hit targets or a bigger purchase when the book is finished

You surely have your own ideas on what would feel like affirmation to you! Just come up with something that reminds you that you can do this, the edit is worth it, and you’ll be happy with the effort you expended when you see the final (gorgeous) manuscript.

What affirmations during editing have worked for you, and/or what do you want to try in the future?

The best affirmation is a writer's retreat at sea! Join Cruising Writers as we sail the Caribbean from Galveston on February 22 to March 1, 2025 with special guests Mark Leslie and Erin Wright leading a deep dive into the world of self-publishing. You’ll come away with invaluable insights, but also great memories as you connect with other writers and explore charming ports of call in Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel. Space is limited, so book your spot today. Check it out HERE.

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About Julie

Julie Glover is an award-winning author of young adult and mystery fiction. Her debut Sharing Hunter placed in several contests, including the much-touted RWA® Golden Heart® YA. Her follow-up, Daring Charlotte, was released last year, and Pairing Anton is coming soon! She has also co-authored five supernatural suspense novels and two short stories in the Muse Island series under her pen name Jules Lynn.

Julie has taught conference workshops and online courses, served as a host of the Writers in the Storm blog, and is a sometimes-host for Cruising Writers, an incomparable writers’ retreat at sea.

Learn more about Julie and her books at her website: julieglover.com.

Top image credit: ©lamaip at depositphotos.com

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15 comments on “Author Affirmations for the Editing Phase”

  1. Great post, Julie! And so important. I love the EB White, Emma Hill, And Stephen King quotes. I’ve always believed the magic happens in editing. And that’s what I tell myself. So I have actually learned to love editing. And it became its own reward because when I see that magic happening on the page, I get all excited and happy.
    I want everyone to experience that. So thank you for writing such a brilliant, important and essential post.

    1. Thanks, Kathleen! I'm the sort who must remind herself that "the magic happens in editing." I love a blank page where creativity can run wild, but facing completed pages and having to unweave and weave them back together can feel daunting. Yet, when I see the Before & After, it's clear that it was all worth it. 🪄 Abracadabra! 💖

  2. Awesome post. As a professional editor, I see the editorial burn daily. I can guarantee your editor feels it for you but knows how further work--no matter how painful--will benefit you and your story. We editors are the dentists of the book biz. We might inflict temporary pain, but we will fix the problems so your book is healthy. 🙂

    1. I love this description: "We might inflict temporary pain, but we will fix the problems so your book is healthy." That is a perfect summary of the editing process! Thanks, Denise.

  3. Hi Julie; this was so timely for me. Not even at the editing phase, but encouragement helpful at every stage of the writing adventure. Decided to use a whole new plot approach/direction. Know it's for the best, but UGH, starting over:). this was the boost I needed.

    1. Gini, I hate those moments when I realize there's so much more work to be done. But I'm always glad in the end that I did it. Hoping your editing journey is smooth!

  4. Hey Julie! I luuuurve seeing you here at WITS, and I most assuredly love all these affirmations. 🙂

    Stephen King's words made me smile: “Only God gets it right the first time and only a slob says, "Oh well, let it go, that's what copyeditors are for.”

  5. Here I am, procrastinating the first edit of this little 10k short story like it's an epic novel. I'm gonna staple these to my forehead.

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