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Swoon Author Vicky Skinner: The 7 Stages of Grief—uh, I mean—Editing

Editing can be an exhausting process. No matter how thick your skin is, it’s hard to have someone point at the piece of work you put your heart and soul into and tell you everything that’s wrong with it, even if that’s their job.

So, I’m here to go over the 7 Stages of Editing (and by this, I mean getting your edit letter) with you so that you know what to expect:

1.) Excitement

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Congratulations! You just got your edit letter! It’s possible that you’ve been waiting months for this moment! The high from selling your book to an editor has kept you afloat all that time, but you’re ready to get back to work! And let’s be honest, you’re probably hoping you’re going to get a letter like this from your editor: “Dear author, this book is perfect. It needs zero changes. It’s going straight to print. You are a genius.”

Keep dreaming.

2.) Shock

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Wait, you’re saying your editor didn’t tell you the book is perfect and now they’re expecting you to change things? To eliminate characters that you’ve grown attached to? To cut plotlines you worked hard on? To delete scenes that you lovingly crafted with excitement and adoration? WTF!

3.) Frustration

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There’s a ridiculous idea in the industry that editors do the work for you. NOPE. I don’t know who started this rumor, but it’s not true. An editor will show you what the problems are, but chances are good they’re not going to fix those problems for you. They might, however, offer some serious moral support while you figure the problems out for yourself. However, IF I KNEW HOW TO FIX THOSE PROBLEMS, THE MANUSCRIPT WOULD HAVE BEEN PERFECT BEFORE MY EDITOR READ IT IN THE FIRST PLACE, DUH. SEND HELP.

4.) Restlessness

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Once you’re read through all the notes, you have a lot of time on your hands to think. You have to fix the problems. You have to figure out that character’s motivation. You have to have a better inciting incident, higher stakes, more emotion. It’ll be all you can think about. While you’re eating, while you’re with your family, while you’re at your other job, while you’re trying to SLEEP, your brain will be going, going, GOING.

5.) Motivation

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You’ve made teary phone calls, you’ve sent frustrated emails, you’ve talked it over with someone over coffee or tea or martinis. You’ve got a whole team of people behind you, cheering you on! Your editor, your significant other (if you have one), your best friend, your loyal pet! They believe in you! YOU CAN DO THIS! THIS IS WHY YOU BECAME A WRITER! Not because it’s easy! But because you’re an artist! Because you have a story to tell! And if you’re going to tell it, it should be the absolute best that it can be! So get to work!


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Admit it, you feel a little like a badass. You’re sitting down in front of your computer, a cup of coffee or tea ready beside you, your favorite playlist blaring, your novel fresh in your mind, and you’re ready. Ready to take on this thing. Ready to write the next #1 NYT Bestseller! But this is the hardest part. Because you have to WORK! You have to work your BUTT OFF. Day and night, until your eyes hurt and your head hurts and your body is a little achy from sitting in your desk chair. You work at home and you work at Starbucks and you work half-laying down in your bed because it’s EXHAUSTING. But you do it. Because you’re a writer.

7.) Satisfaction

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YOU DID IT! YOU FINISHED THE EDIT! Have some ice cream! Watch some Netflix! Take a dang nap! Send it to your editor and wait to hear back, all the while thinking, this time, they’ll say it’s perfect.

Author spotlight

Vicky Skinner

Born and raised in Texas, I don't act like much of a Texan. I like cold weather and hate country …

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