Roadblocks while editing

Have you ever found yourself editing, things running smoothly, and all of a sudden you come upon a herd of mountain goats? All the progress you felt you were making is now at a standstill and you feel like you can’t move anywhere without running someone over?

Yesterday, we talked about taking breaks while editing, but what about roadblocks we run into while we’re editing? Roadblocks are things like running into the Alps of demotivation, finding a problem spot and having no idea how to fix it, finding that you’re still missing mistakes, or not knowing what should go or what should stay.

What do we do then?

Let’s take them one at a time.


Everyone runs into this at one point or another. I’ve never, ever met someone who was always motivated to do what needed to be done. The solutions here vary, but the one thing that doesn’t is taking the time to try to understanding WHY you’re feeling demotivated.

Have you been working on this project exclusively for too long?
Are other areas of life kicking you down?
Do you feel stuck?

It may take a bit of time and reflection to figure it out (or maybe, way deep down, you already know the answer to this), but once you do, it’s easier to break the rut and them get moving again.

If you’ve been working exclusively too long, take a break. Take a week if you need. Or more. This could be a good time to get some alpha feedback or work on a different project. I find that taking a few days off, especially if I’m working on something else that’s enjoyable, does wonders to remotivate me to get things done on my main WIP.

If life is getting you down, you’ll need to decide what to do here. Sometimes you need to take a break and deal with other stuff. Other times, buckling down and writing is the answer to dealing with some extra garbage in life.

What if you’re feeling stuck, though? What if your demotivation stems from not knowing how to solve a problem?

Unsure how to fix a problem spot

I am a big fan of getting input from others.

I’m part of a writing group on Facebook, Author’s Tale, and there are so many wonderful people in there who are happy to help work through an issue. Whether it’s trying to figure out wording or just asking how people deal with a certain issue, getting feedback from others is invaluable. Even if they don’t actually “solve” the problem, suggestions from others can get my brain rolling again.

Other times, I’ve reached out to my alphas (I’ll talk alphas next week, so come back!) and brainstormed it through. I use them because they were already familiar with the work. These are also the people, outside of myself, who are the most invested in the success of my work .

Have you tried taking a break? I’ve been known to obsessively try to work through an issue, but after a night’s sleep, the solution comes to me. Sometimes, after you’ve spent hours starting at the same page, walking away is precisely what is needed.

What about those pesky mistakes? It can be really demotivating when you keep finding mistakes every time you go through your work.

Still missing mistakes

This is where alpha and beta readers come in really, REALLY handy. They are completely new and fresh eyes. I love to use Google Docs so they can comment right in the document and point out missing words instead of that ever annoying on page three, the fourth paragraph the sentence that says…. you missed ‘to’. Then you spend the next 10 minutes scouring page three trying to find that darn sentence that seems to have completely fallen off the page and finally you start at the top and just read the darn thing out loud to find it. Or is that just me?

Anyway, other eyes are a great way to find mistakes. The next two weeks will be all about alphas and betas and, believe me, I’ve got LOTS to say on the subject!

Even with all of these things, the biggest goat herd I run into when editing is figuring out which goats just HAVE to go.

How to decide what should go and what should stay

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you can find yourself become really attached to certain bits and pieces of your work. Maybe you really liked that example or you really wanted to use that one verse, but it just doesn’t quite fit or chapter three is easily twice as long as all the others. How do you decide which goat goes the right with you and which ones go to the left to the slaughterhouse?

In the world of Bible studies, it’s imperative to remain focused on the general idea. So if that idea, that verse, that example, detract from the focus, it’s gotta go. I was really upset when I had to delete an example I’d worked on for what felt like forever to make work. It was kind of awkward, it wouldn’t related to everyone, and yet I tried so hard to cram it in there anyway. Remember the big point you’re trying to make. Remember what you’re trying to say, then anytime you’re wondering if it should stay or go, ask how it helps to make the point. If you struggle to answer that, it probably has to go.

I know, it sucks! Believe me, I know!

Ultimately, though, isn’t our goal to make the best product we can possibly make? This can’t happen alone and it can’t happen without being willing to make some hard decisions about what you should keep of your stuff and what should go.

When in doubt, ask someone else. Someone who isn’t emotionally invested like you are can be a tremendous help in getting stuff cut and helping it to sound and read better.


These were some of the major roadblocks I could think of. What about you? What problems do you run into while editing? Where do you find you struggle the most?


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