When Do You Know You’re Done Editing Your Work?

Many writers never finish their work and send it off to an editor, agent or publisher simply because they never feel it’s finished. So when do you know when your work is actually done?

You don’t. But you have to decide it’s done. Here’s how I do it.

Typically, I either have a deadline someone else has given me, like a magazine editor, or most recently, my editor at a publishing house, or I give myself a deadline. When that deadline comes, I’m done—whether I like it or not. At that point, I stop working on the article, essay or book. Many times I don’t ever reread the piece. I don’t want to know if I could have improved it! It just causes me heartache. Now, if I am given a chance to improve it at some later date, of course, I will reread it then and make improvements.

That’s the thing: It’s always possible to improve your writing. So, you have to call it quits at some point. Therefore, you have to choose a point in time to say, “Enough. I’m done.”

So, pick a day, an hour, a minute. Hit save. Turn in your work. Don’t look back. That’s when you’re done editing your work.

Comments

  1. How true.
    Just two days ago I had a piece to turn in which was driving me nuts already.
    I love writing, don’t get me wrong, but in the past few weeks I barely had time to breathe and had written this particular piece a few sentences every now and then when I had the time to and had one day to go through it all and make it seem like the piece flowed from the very beginning. I hate writing like that.
    So at one point as I started re-reading for the Nth time and still figured it needs work I just stopped and sent it in without thinking about it for a second longer.
    Results? The editor emailed back in less than half an hour telling me how much she loved the piece.

    So I completely agree with your approach, set a deadline and stop then and there – don’t wait until you have to alternate between pulling your hair and thumping your head against the desk 😉

    • Estrella,
      Good for you and congrats on the editors response! It’s amazing how good our work can be even when we don’t know it or don’t think so. That’s why we just have to stop editing and revising and send it in. I’m so glad you wrote in with your story. I hope other readers learn from your experience. Thanks for reading and commenting, and good luck with your writing.

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