Skip to main content

When Should Writers Edit Their Work?

When should writers edit their work? As they write? Afterward? And should they put a lot of effort into it before submitting it? We dive into these questions here.

When should writers edit their work? As they write? Afterward? And should they put a lot of effort into it before submitting it? We dive into these questions here.

Image placeholder title

Disclaimer: I'm a writer. I know what it feels like when someone tells me what writers should or should not do. As such, take my advice as suggestions—backed up by years of experience. If your method works for you, then use your method. But this is what works for me and others I know when it comes to self-editing.

(12 Popular Grammar Questions and Answers.)

There are a few ways to look at the question of when writers should consider editing their work. First, should they do it before submitting for publication? Then, should they do it during the writing process? I feel the answers are similar regardless of writing genre.

So whether you're a poet, novelist, blogger, or journalist, let's break this down one piece at a time.

Every writer knows that the journey to publication is a long and hard road. Once you finish your first draft, it's time to start the arduous process of self-editing and revision. When you take this online writing workshop, you will learn the methods of self-editing for fiction writers to ensure your writing is free of grammatical errors.

Image placeholder title

Click to continue.

Should Writers Edit Their Work Before Submitting?

The easy answer for this question is yes. Agents and editors expect pitches, proposals, manuscripts, and other submission materials to be as polished and professional as possible. This doesn't mean an agent or editor won't suggest more edits after acceptance, but the most professional writers usually require the least edits. And all writers should try to be professional.

Should Writers Edit During the Writing Process?

The answer to this question is a little trickier, especially when I consider the editing and revision process part of the writing process. And as a poet who has edited poems during live readings before, I don't think the writing process is ever completely over.

That said, I often advise writers to focus on finishing their first draft before putting in too much time on the revision or editing process. The reason for this is simple: Momentum.

(The 7 Deadly Sins of Editors—According to Novelists.)

I've seen many writers struggle to finish the first draft, because they get distracted fixing this problem or that scene. But I know a secret: No matter how perfect your first draft, there is going to be room for editing and revision in the second draft. So focus on finishing that first draft and then jump into the recreation process.

When Should Writers Edit Their Work? Final Thoughts.

If I notice a typo in the first paragraph while typing up the second, then yes, I'll fix it. But if I notice a structural concern crop up when I'm in the middle of an article or poem, I'll go ahead and finish that first draft. Because I've found it's a lot easier to revise a complete first draft than to fix up half a draft and then try to rekindle the spark that started the story or poem in the first place.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. And now we're on Day 30.

Rae Meadows: On a Personal Passion Inspiring Literary Fiction

Rae Meadows: On a Personal Passion Inspiring Literary Fiction

Award-winning author Rae Meadows discusses how her lifelong love of gymnastics helped inspire her new literary novel, Winterland.

The Fae

The Fae

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character discovers that there are fae in their backyard.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 29 features our fifth (and final) Two-for-Tuesday prompt.

From Script

A Twist on the Holiday Romantic Comedy (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, acclaimed filmmaker Charles Shyer shares with Script his twist on the holiday romantic comedy in his new film The Noel Diary, and more.

Sugar House Review Market Spotlight quote

Sugar House Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Sugar House Review, a nonprofit poetry publication based out of Utah.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 28 is remix time.

Brian Lee Durfee: On Finishing a Fantasy Trilogy

Brian Lee Durfee: On Finishing a Fantasy Trilogy

Artist and author Brian Lee Durfee discusses what it felt like to write the final sentence in his Five Warrior Angels trilogy with his novel, The Lonesome Crown.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 5 WDU Courses, our Short Short Story Competition, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce 5 WDU courses, our short short story competition deadline, and more!