Why Writers Can’t Edit Their Own Wrok – Jeff Goins

Dear Gem,

I am not a perfect writer believe me. If there’s one thing that stops you from exploring your potential to write, that would be FEAR. Do you know my secret? I have reliable grammar-police buddies.

Let me share an excerpt from a writer I follow.

Writers Can’t Edit

A writer can’t edit his own work.

Why is this? Why are writers incapable of editing their work? And why, if you are one, should you not even try?

You’re too close to the work

A writer is a creative force, a demigod who builds worlds and crafts universes.

Stepping back from such a creation and calling it “very good” is difficult for most of us (I suppose that’s only a job for a real God). When you create something, you are attached to it. It’s hard to criticize and perfect. This is your baby, your child, after all. Yours.

Moreover, it’s not your job to edit your work as you go — that kills the creative process.

Doing this will get you stuck at word #2 of a 40,000-word manuscript. You just need to build it, and get out of the way.

You develop blinders

When writers write, they’re translating thoughts to paper (or screen). They’re taking what’s in their minds and putting it on display for the world to see.

As you compose and craft, like any good parent does with a child, you don’t see your work for what it is. You see it for its potential, for what you imagine it to be.

In other words, you’re blind to reality. To the fact that you left out a word (or several), missed a comma here, and so forth. You need some fresh perspective.

You’re not objective

This is your work, after all. You have no way of telling if it is really bad or really good. You need someone you trust, someone to speak the truth in love and help make you (and your work) better. Not anyone can do this. But someone should.

Otherwise, you may spend your life thinking you’re a genius, when you’re mediocre at best. Or worse (and far more common): you’ll spend your creative energy in self-doubt when you actually are quite good.

You just need some help. You need an editor, a coach, a friend.

We all need editors, despite the fact that we hate the process of fixing our mistakes.


That being said, I thank Kuya Leo and ‘Te Sharon for being my editor-friends.

Thank you for asking! To ask more click here.


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