Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Are Editing Your Book


The inspiration for this list is, well frankly, my latest labor over the editing process. I hope you enjoy the list and, yes I have done some of these things.

Ten Things Not to Do if You Are Editing Your Book.

10 If you are editing, do not think glasses of wine make the work go easier. If you do, at best you’ll just have to do it over. At worst, you might inadvertently delete several chapters of your book under the belief that you have better ones in mind. (Aren’t you glad you had that backup file Goof-ball?)

9 If you are editing, do not think you can watch the football game while you work. If you do, at best you will catch all your mistakes on the second go around. At worst, you think you found them all only to discover in reading a review the question, “What does a touchdown have to do with the relationship?” (Hmm you can explain that can’t you Bunkie?)

8 If you are editing, do not decide to change a character’s name with “find and replace.” If you do, At best you’ll catch the ones missed. At worst, you will have a new character named JerryTinyO.” (That extra space sure made a difference. Oh, and Tiny would like to see you. He’s overย at the gym straightening out horseshoes.)

7 If you are editing, do not believe long breaks will enhance your work. If you do, at best you will be editing this book forever. At worst, your continuity will go out the window, and your book will read like a short story collection. (You had not intended to publish short stories, did you Ferd?”)

6 If you are editing, do not ask your friends to read the new edits. If you do, at best the opinions will be so varied you’ll be confused. At worst, you will come to realize you need new friends and a new book. (You now wish you had just given it to an editor right?)

5 If you are editing, do not try to do the whole thing in one sitting. If you do, at best you will be exhausted. At worst, you may stop caring how the stupid book comes out and just want to get it done. (Your two-star reviews aren’t much of a reward are they?)

4 If you are editing, do not snack to reduce stress. If you do, at best you’ll need extra exercise hours. At worst, your snacking will resemble a runaway train from which there is no return. (Getting a grip is so much harder when there is more of you isn’t it?)

3 If you are editing, do not believe the rest of the family understands your pain. If you do, at best you’ll feel misunderstood. At worst, you will constantly be thinking of ways to take your angst out on your characters. (This book has taken on a sinister air hasn’t it Stephen?)

2 If you are editing, do not abandon personal hygiene. If you do, at best you will be alone. At worst, your family could be seekingย council with the local mental health provider, and you’ll get more help than you need. (You can still type with that white jacket on right Buford?)

1 If you are editing, know when it is time to stop. If you don’t at best, you will never finish the book. At worst, you will suffer PETS (Post Editing Traumatic Ssyndrome) and never sleep again. (You need to stop going over the book in your head. It is published already.)


  1. Gwen Plano · ·

    Oh gosh, and I thought it was only me….. These top ten belong on the Jimmy Fallon show!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ha ha ha. No, they are alive here every Monday. Thanks, Gwen.

  2. I was doomed at #10

    1. Ha ha ha. Thans, Susan. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. I’ll admit to doing #8 and #9. Though I don’t edit during shows and movies that I’ve never seen before. All of these are so true too. Especially the ‘understand my pain’ one. It can never be properly described to those who haven’t lived it.

    1. Thanks, Charles. That pain one is a biggie. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Tends to end in a demand to be less dramatic.

      2. And a statement to the effect that “your pain is self induced.”

      3. Oh yeah. That one always earns a cringe.

  4. Knowing when to stop is definitely the hardest.
    Groooaaannnnn…. It is SO Monday. Hair pulling Monday.

    1. I know what you mean. Miserable Monday needs turned into Magnificent Monday. (Yeah right) Hugs. ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. Indeed it does. You-whooo! Any magic genies out there — time to get busy. Yo! Over here! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      2. I’m yelling as well. *jumps up and down waving a white handkerchief*

  5. OMG! This was hilarious, John…and so true! Thanks for the early morning laughs.

    1. Thank you for letting me know I did my job. Have a great day, Jill. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Can I add another one to the list.
    When editing do not, I repeat, do not run out of coffee. love the post.

    1. Excellent add. I took the coffee element as a given and totally forgot about it. Thank you. ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Very accurate list. I think I have one of those white jackets around here somewhere.

    1. In your size? Good idea. Thanks Craig.:-)

  8. Good morning, John,
    Do you do editing/proof reading at the computer or with printed-out texts? I find it much better if I have a printed version. I catch more typos then.
    Have a great day,

    1. Printing is a very good way. I do mine on the computer but have help from a program (Grammarly) Plus I also use a professional editor. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Well, as I can’t print everything and don’t have advanced proofing tools, I simply leave more typos. But then, I’m not a professional writer.

      2. You can get a Grammarly free edition for things like word docs, WordPress and e-mails. Go to

  9. I tried #8 one time – disastrous results.

    1. Every time I use the find and replace function I’m sorry I did. Glad you had the same result

  10. See – this is why I say you should NEVER edit your own work… not unless you’re big-time into self-flagellation! ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. I have to go through it before I hand it off. It would be way too embarrassing otherwise.Thanks, Jan

  11. After re-composing myself, I have to say that your #10 is actually one I’ve tried and Wine and writing NEVER work well together. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ernest Hemmingway said “Write drunk, edit sober.” Thanks, Jan. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Well, sir, this is one list that provoked more angst among your readers than hilarity… lots of authors in the crowd, Johnny!

    1. Yes. For sure. Thanks, John ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. John, I feel your pain. Who says writing is easy? Guilty as charged on most counts, ha!

    1. I think we all do these things one way or another. Thanks, Debbie. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Nice to know we’re not alone, right?!

      2. Sure is. ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. You’re a wise man, John. W. Howell.

    1. Thanks. I’ve shown this comment to my wife. ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. Are you sure about #1, John? I think it might require additional research.

    1. I think it is true. ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. I’m just boarding the second draft train right now, John. Thanks for the tips on handling the drudgery!

  17. I’ve (unfortunately) done #8 with disastrous results. Life and learn, LOL.
    Great list, John!

    1. I know what you mean. Thanks, Mae Clair

  18. OMG. These are real? I thought I was just s.l.o.w. Numbers 1 and 2 sound familiar. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Yes they are real. Don’t do them. ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. I’m gonna take your word for it. Or send you mine to do, maybe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Send it to somebody who knows something about editing. I’m clueless.

      1. What I know is you go in with a while pie and they leave you a slice.

  20. I love #3 about taking the angst out on your characters. Maybe that works well if you write horror novels. Stephen King wrote he can’t even remember writing a couple of his books when he was having problems. ๐Ÿ™‚ — Suzanne

    1. I would like to be able to say I can’t remember writing a book because I had so many out there. Thanks, Suzanne.:-)

  21. For me, editing seemed to be like ‘Groundhog Day’. Then somebody said, “enough’s enough, now pass it on to your editor.” Oh, it was my editor that shouted that at me. ๐Ÿ˜€
    I’ll always take a shower though, John.

    1. Ha ha ha. Good one. ๐Ÿ˜€

  22. You’re definitely right about the dangers of a glass of wine, John. It has the awful combination of impairing my ability while increasing my confidence.

    1. Nothing like a confident incompetent at the keyboard. Makes for some delightful prose. Thanks, Bun.

  23. Wasn’t it Hemingway who said, “Write drunk, edit sober”? hehe Yeah, I learned that one the hard way. ๐Ÿ˜›
    Hey, thanks so much for your great review of All Good Stories! Much appreciated, John. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Yes it was Hemingway. I really like your writing and enjoyed All Good Stories. You are so welcome.

      1. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. […] via Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Are Editing Your Book โ€” Fiction Favorites […]

  25. Brilliant list, John, I had to reblog. I got caught with no. 8 on my first book and what a mess it made of my manuscript. Lesson learned. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    1. I also did that with a car. I had two different names throughout the book. What a disaster. Thanks, Jean

%d bloggers like this: