The 5 Stages of Edit Letter Grief

It’s an exciting time in a writer’s life! You’ve taken your book as far as you can get it by yourself and you send it off to your CP/Agent/Editor and they turn around and give you an edit letter detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly about your manuscript and lots of notes on what needs work.

It’s like standing at basecamp on an enormous mountain, looking out on the beauty around and marveling at how high up you are… You take a deep breath and while you’re filling your lungs with all that delicious oxygen, your guide sneaks around and gut punches you then points to the top of the mountain and yells, KEEP CLIMBING!

Getting an edit letter—be it your first or one thousandth—you’re bound to go through at least a few of the stages below.

  1. Denial. My editor has NO idea who my characters are, has no concept of the heart of the story and is ABSOLUTELY wrong! These are NOT the changes that need to happen in this story!
  2. Anger. Well crap, my editor is right. The book really does need these changes, BUT THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE! How in the world can she even ask me to do them? Her notes were too vague. She’s basically setting me up to fail!
  3. Bargaining. Okay, I can see how to do a few of the notes, but the others? No idea! What about  I change these few things, then I bet it won’t be necessary to do the rest of your suggestions… okay? Not enough? What can I give you to just lie and say it’s ready?
  4. Depression. I’m finally vibing with all these suggested edits, my editor was totally right. Why didn’t I think of these changes in the first place? It’s because I’m a TERRIBLE writer with no imagination! My editor should just finish this manuscript because she obviously knows better than I do. I suck. I suck. I suck.
  5. Acceptance. I just fell in love with my manuscript all over again after finishing these edits. I love writing! I love my editor! I love edit letters!

Any of this sound familiar? Oh it sure does to me because I’ve been there… many times!

A tip for working through these stages as quickly as possible? When you get your letter, let the notes sit for awhile before you start trying to make it work. If you sit down and try to start implementing before they’ve had time to marinate a bit, you’re going to get stuck in one of the first four stages and it will take you longer to move on to stage 5…

If you’re wondering how I tackle edit letters, check out these blog posts.

5 Stages of edit letter grief-2

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