Self-editing When You've Lost Objectivity (Miniblog)

Editing. We’ve all got to do it, and the more you do it on one manuscript, the harder it gets. You start subconsciously predicting what you’re reading and lose the ability to look at your work objectively.


Personally, I enjoy editing—that's why I'm making a career out of it! However, editing my own stuff is very different to editing the work of others. I use a combination of these seven techniques when editing my manuscripts to regain the objectivity I lose when editing something I wrote.


  • Print it out and edit with a pen on paper the old-fashioned way! We think a little differently when forced to use our hands because it slows us down. Take your manuscript somewhere new and spend a few extra quiet moments on it.

  • Convert the file to a PDF and email it to your Kindle (if you have one). Seeing it as other published novels you’ve read will help you view it more critically. This is particularly good for spotting any amateur-looking errors, overly chunky paragraphs, or formatting issues.

  • Change the font on your document. This makes spotting punctuation and spelling errors easier.

  • Read your story backwards! Line by line, paragraph by paragraph, or chapter by chapter. Each will give you a different level of edit, with lines looking at grammar and readability, paragraphs looking at structure and broader readability, and chapters looking at scene level details and plot holes. This method works by stopping you from predicting what you’re reading by taking away familiarity.

  • Read out loud. You’ll notice awkward or repetitive phrasing more easily this way. When you start to turn blue, you’ll also know when you’re missing punctuation!

  • Try text-to-voice software. If you can get past the robotic sound, this is a good method for when you are focusing on phrasing, rather than punctuation. Listening to your novel being read can also tell you how well and clearly you are illustrating your scenes.

And finally...

  • Walk away. Leave your novel, take time off, start something new. Whatever it takes to distract yourself into forgetting so you can come back with fresh eyes! Plus, you've worked hard - you deserve the break!


So just a short post today, but I hope I've given some of you out there some ideas to reignite that editing fire in you!