15 Quotes about Editing

Are you in the process of editing? I'm so sorry. Just kidding. (Sort of.) For many writers, editing is both the best and the worst part of the process. We have to take a hard, critical look at our work to see if it stands up to our vision. We also have to open ourselves up to external criticism. But it's also the place where stories begin to truly shine, and that's special! Let these quotes about editing fill you with hope and inspiration to move fearlessly forward.




Editing Quotes


First off, you're in good company. Even the world's greatest authors have struggled with writing "the perfect" first draft.


"The first draft of anything is shit."

Ernest Hemingway


"A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."

Thomas Mann



Editing means cutting unnecessary words and scenes. Sometimes, even the ones you love.


"The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend."

Isaac Bashevis Singer


“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

― Stephen King


“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

Dr. Seuss


"Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings."

― Stephen King


“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Mark Twain


"Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain. There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred pages are there. Only you don't see them."

― Elie Wiesel



Say what you mean. Editing is a time for polishing your intention.


“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Anton Chekhov


"The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

Mark Twain



The work is worth it. This is a time when your book can go from okay to spectacular.


“A good book isn't written, it's rewritten.”

Phyllis A. Whitney


"I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times—once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say. Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one's fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing."

― Bernard Malamud



A word of thanks for editors.

Editing fiction is like using your fingers to untangle the hair of someone you love.

― Stephanie Roberts


When an editor works with an author, she cannot help seeing into the medicine cabinet of his soul. All the terrible emotions, the desire for vindications, the paranoia, and the projection are bottled in there, along with all the excesses of envy, desire for revenge, all the hypochondriacal responses, rituals, defenses, and the twin obsessions with sex and money. In other words, the stuff of great books.

― Betsy Lerner



I hope these quotes about editing have helped you on your path! Just remember, you've got this. 👍


“You can fix anything but a blank page.”

Nora Roberts



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