Editing is Like Cleaning the Garage

As I’m writing this, my handyman is cleaning and organizing my garage.  Or I should say he was because he just came to say he’s finished.  And the garage looks great.  He sorted everything by purpose and frequency of use.


I would have had a very hard time getting this job completed so quickly.  Not just because of my physical problems, but because I second-guess every decision about moving or tossing an item.  This morning I stayed out of the way and let him decide how to do the job.


It strikes me that editing a manuscript is like cleaning the garage.  Someone must look at every item, assess it for value, and position it to make sense with its use.  An editor analyzes every word, determines its value to the narrative, and verifies that its placement helps create the best story.


When we attempt to edit our own writing, we often run into that what stays/what goes problem I’ve been having in the garage.  We can’t step back far enough from our words to make the hard decisions that turn okay writing into something to remember.


That’s why it’s so important to find someone you trust (and enjoy working with) to edit your book.  Someone who edits for a living, or at least writes extensively and writes well.


An editor has the emotional distance to excavate the treasure in your words and jettison the dross. 


If you’re worried about the expense, be sure you add it to your book budget.  Thank me later when you receive the edited pages back and see the magic revealed in your words.


Or you can do what I’ve done in the past:

  • drag out the garage cleaning out over several weeks (try to self-edit your work)
  • end up with every item still there, but shoved a few feet from its original position (don’t make needed changes to your words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters)
  • fail to see the opportunities lurking in that roomy space (never find the bestseller material hidden in the manuscript)


You have the choice to leave your garage (manuscript) cluttered and disorganized, or to hire someone to get the dirty work done quickly and efficiently.


Call me lazy, or call me smart.  I choose letting someone else handle the editing for me while I sit back and work on my next novel.