Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Hiding From Editorial Critiques


Today is December's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The fact that my editor returned my manuscript, and I have yet to open it.

Yep, it finally happened. The editor returned my manuscript with all her suggested changes. That was twenty-three days ago.  Now I'll admit life’s been busy this November. We're preparing for our son to return home from school. We had a Covid scare just before Thanksgiving. It took a few days to recover from Thanksgiving dinner. But this is procrastination of the highest order. I’m simply too chicken to start the editing process. 

Photo by Zachariah Smith on Unsplash

I did read the editorial letter that accompanied the manuscript (Yay, me!), and all things considered, it sounds as though I don’t have too many major issues to fix. But that hasn’t prevented me from finding other projects to occupy my time. Heck, I only think about the manuscript when my editor writes me and asks me what I thought about her comments. 😔

It’s not like I’ve been ignoring my writerly duties. I’m already working on the sequel, and although first drafts can be stressful (see this month’s question), I’m finding it much less stressful than reading the editor’s comments and figuring out what to do about them. It's not like I'm in a hurry. I won't be releasing this book until the sequel is done, so there's no pressure to start. Thank goodness I'm not depending upon writing to feed my family.

December's question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

Putting words down on the paper stresses me. I know this sounds strange for a writer to say, but it's the truth. I’m not a natural writer, so it often feels like pulling teeth to knock out a scene. Even after I write the first draft, beating it into shape can be exhausting for me, often taking days or weeks (or occasionally months) to fix.

What delights me is when the scene finally comes together and I can sit back and be proud of what I’ve written. For a guy who grew up hating to write, that’s saying something.

This month’s co-hosts are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray! Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

And on a totally unrelated note... for those of you who love cats and Jurassic Park, enjoy the video.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 



  1. I do better with editorial letters when I print them out and then tick them off one by one. I do skip around, too, and do the easiest ones first...which makes it look like I've done a ton of work by the time the tougher revisions need to be done. :)

  2. Funny scene with a cat!
    Putting words on paper stresses me as well.
    Now, open that document! How bad could it be?

  3. You're not alone in being stressed about getting a first draft done. Me too. And I'm glad your editor letter was good. It most likely means that your edits won't be that hard.

  4. I love how we all have our own ways to tackle writing our stories.
    I like Elizabeth's suggestion for dealing with the edits. Good luck!

  5. Drafting can be excruciating sometimes. It's definitely nice to have something to work with. If you're not in a rush to get to the edits, maybe see out the rest of the year and the holidays. Then you'll know you have it to do in January and can hopefully come around to the idea before then!

  6. When you do go through your edits, tackling the easy stuff first makes a lot of sense to me. For me, just getting started is always the most stressful part. Once I get going, though, it's easy for me to keep going. Maybe it will be the same for you with editing.

  7. Ken, I sympathize. I went through the same thing twice recently. I have two editor for two difference manuscripts. One thought, the sooner you look the sooner that feeling in the centre of your chest will go away.

  8. I understand the procrastination part, Ken. But you'll find the right time to open the manuscript and settle into reading your editor's comments and suggestions. I often set aside the editing bit until I'm emotionally prepared.

    Loved the video! Thanks for brightening my morning.

  9. This was an interesting post. I usually jump on comments from my editor--for much the same reason you delay them. I want to get through them, unwrap any surprises, fix all the problems. Move on! Best of luck with the next book!

  10. Awesome video. Ha!

    Yeah, getting feedback from an editor takes a lot of steeling one's nerves to really look at. But having read your stuff, I'm sure you're probably not going to face a lot of changes. But I agree with you on beating the story into shape being exhausting. It's the toughest part for me.

  11. Wait/Don't wait. Lots of good advice above, but it really depends on your personality. I think it is time to flip a coin (after Christmas, lol?)
    If the letter was good, I think you won't face too much editing.

  12. Taking some time to digest the summary is good, but it's time to BICHOK. Just do it. LOL

    I love reading the finished product, too. I'm still working on learning to love the journey as much, especially when the drafting is slow going.

  13. I love the OwlKitty videos.

    As soon as you make yourself have some time, open up the document with the accompanying letter beside it and look over it.

  14. I have finally learned to cope with the dreaded editor comments. Apart from the fact that my editor knows I'm a sensitive soul and easily reduced to tears, I have stiffened up, and accepted that sometimes I write things that aren't clear to the poor reader who can't see what's going on in my head. [and tend to write absurdly long sentences]
    And once I take it in that frame of mind, it's really interesting to see how other people interpret my words :)
    Good luck :)
    Oh, and don't do it all at once. Look through it all, and deal with the ones you agree with first. There's no hurry (is there?)


  15. I love editing. I love making things better. I'm weird! Don't wait too long. You'll be fine. Just dive in!

  16. First off, congrats for getting the manuscript and I cannot imagine how anxious ridden it is to open it up. Still, you steeled your resolve for reading the letter. I totally understand the stress you feel when you are putting words onto a new document or a piece of paper. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, it's nice to know that there are others around that have similar struggles: editing takes a long time and feeling like it is inadequate at times when you are revising it.

    I love the video you posted, god I didn't know that was an option to see Jurassic Park with cats.

  17. Just getting words down on paper is so hard. And depending on what you're writing, it can be emotionally draining.
    I watched a documentary about Amy Chan and she talked about being emotionally exhausted each day after writing.
    You can open that letter! I know it must be a little nerve wracking, but I'm sure your editor's comments will only make your book even better!

  18. OMG! Jurassic Park but with a Cat is so funny, Ken! That scene from Jurassic Park remains one of the most terrifying things I've ever seen. Wishing you courage to open that letter! You have an editor! I would love to be in that position! I've been following your IWSG posts for years ~ Look how far you've come. Enjoy the holiday season with your family. I hope Christmas is easier for you than Christmas!

  19. So, depending on the project and the day, sometimes writing feels awesome, and sometimes it is like pulling teeth with no anesthetic - it all depends.
    I love that you keep on writing and working at your craft even though it is hard.
    And I love that video! :)
    I hope your next writing session is good.
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  20. I loved the Cat in Jurassic Park! About the edits: I do the same thing, wait a bit before reading them. Not 23 days, mind you, but a day or 2. You're taking my idea to extremes. LOL It's time to read what she had to say. It might not be as bad as you think. You've worked so hard to get this story off to an editor, see what she has to say. Best wishes for a great month.

  21. Congrats on getting that manuscript!
    I'm sure that by now you've opened that document and have begun tackling the comments/items one by one.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful & Prosperous New Year!