I wrote the first edition of this article in May 2019. Two years later and five published books, I still believe that yes, you can overedit because perfection is impossible.
I defy you to name a book where mistakes are non-existent. Even with the benefit of a professional editor, I’ve found errors in several of the books I’ve read. Typically, they’re minor mistakes, but they’re there. And they will show up in your book no matter how much time you spend editing your manuscript.
That’s not to say you should put out work full of mistakes. What it means is that you need to accept you’re human, and errors are inevitable.
When you find those two misspelled words, that misworded sentence, in your three-hundred-page novel, it will frustrate you and never feel good. At some point, though, you need to put an end to the editing process and move on.
Incessant over editing becomes obsessive. Over editing, your manuscript will not improve your book but steer your initial narrative in a different direction.
I’m not fond of editing. I hate it, hate it, and hate it some more. Did I mention I hate it?
Examining your manuscript over and over becomes a tedious task. After the fourth or fifth read, the repetitive task becomes monotonous, and you end up making more mistakes than correcting.
You can hire a copy editor to find the errors you miss, but finding a reliable, professional editor is like searching for a needle in a haystack. I know this first hand. I’ve gone through five editors. Each drained my bank account and left me wondering why I bothered.
Limit your rereads, rewrites, and editing of your manuscript. Aim to make your manuscript as error-free as possible and accept that at some point, you have to roll with what you have.
Coming to terms with the fact your manuscript will never be perfect and that the occasional mistake will get away from you is a fact you must embrace.
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