Breaking out of the Editing Funk

Vision 67

Breaking out of the Editing Funk


Heather Webb

Between the Sheets Blog

Copyright © 2012, Heather Webb, All Rights Reserved



In a self-destructive editing funk? Yeah, me, too. These are the issues I’m wading through:

  • Not covering enough ground per day
  • Self-doubt: will it ever be good enough?
  • Balancing everything: character development, foreshadowing, symbolism, authentic dialog, inner struggle, raising the stakes, pacing
  • Scenes and sentences are running together

Here is how I’m dealing with them:

Creating New Habits

Know what you are writing about. Begin each writing/editing session by spending several minutes (5-15) jotting down what you will be working on for that session. This helps mitigate the screen-staring for endless periods of time, the not knowing where you’re headed, and the issue of how to progress forward. The more informal your pre-write scribbling, the better. Remember: This is not actual writing. It’s planning, brainstorming, and a warm-up exercise. Do this every time you are stuck on a scene to get the juices flowing again.

Chart Your Writing Habits

Include the time spent and the word count or page numbers completed every single time you sit down to work. Track your most productive days and recreate them. Are you more productive at home or elsewhere? In the morning, afternoon, or evening? Begin a routine in which you may progress each session. Some of these ideas come from a wonderful, helpful post by Rachel Aaron on increasing your word count (

Silence the Voices in Your Head

You know the ones: You’re not good enough, you’ll never make it, and no one will want to represent you. It’s true. You’ll never be good enough, or get anywhere, if you don’t sit down and WRITE. Putting your masterpiece out there is frightening, humbling, intimidating. So what? NOT being out there is all of those things, but without any of the rewards that come with taking risks—recognition, important feedback to grow, having your DREAM COME TRUE. So tell the voices to shut up, put fingers to the keyboard, and get cranking.

Work In Layers

Another writer once said to me, "A book is like a canvas. If you only painted one or two layers of color on the canvas, the painting would look like nothing at all. You have to write in layers, as a painter paints in layers, to incorporate everything that makes a book meaningful, beautiful, inspiring–a work of art.”

Work In Drafts

Choose specific things to revise in different drafts. This is called layering. As an example, try these layers/drafts.

  • Layer 1: Finish your first draft.
  • Layer 2: Authentic dialog (voice) & scene building
  • Layer 3: Pacing
  • Layer 4: Yearning/inner struggle, character arc

Layering helps ease the stress of juggling so many important aspects of storytelling at once.

Print It Out

When everything runs together, when it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees, print out your MS. We’re far too forgiving when reading on a screen. You’d be amazed by the errors and slow scenes that jump out at you when it’s in on paper. My pages bleed.

Keep Going

Muscle through the tough times. Don’t be a wimp, a whiner, and a schlep who feels sorry for themselves. Get off your keester and get it done–even when the going gets tough. You know what they say about that–the tough not only survive, but they kick a little ass.