The Emotional Rollercoaster of Editing

An occasional writer’s roadmap for taking editing from a white-knuckle experience to confidently throwing my arms in the air and enjoying the ride.

6 min readJun 12, 2021


Taking the plunge, again. (Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash)

If you write anything that goes beyond your own desk, you’ll know this rollercoaster. Sometimes, maybe, it gives you a little thrill and you’re keen to jump on board. Mostly, you’re reluctant but resigned to it (‘Here we go again’). And, in my experience, there’s nothing we can do to avoid it.

Of course, everyone will have a different rollercoaster. A different process, different pain points, different emotional triggers. I’m an occasional writer (it’s not my main job), and between working on non-fiction, fiction, and academic writing, I have to do a lot of mindset switching. But the consistency of my experience with editing gives me a sneaking suspicion that there are lots of similarities between my rollercoaster and other people’s too.

So, as I finally sat down to edit the book chapter I’ve been sitting on for six months, I realised that maybe I can give myself a map for what was coming next, to help manage the lurches, and maybe even to enjoy the work instead of feeling trapped and shaken. Join me, on this rollercoaster of a rollercoaster, and tell me whether any of it feels familiar.


The email is sitting in my inbox. Or, as commonly, I’ve got notifications of comments/changes in a shared doc. But I need to psych myself up to open it up.

What’s in there?

Maybe it’ll be embarrassing. Did you get something hideously wrong?

Maybe it’ll be frustrating. Can they even read properly?

Whatever it is, it’ll definitely be work. And you were so glad to be done with the draft when you sent it.

Do you know that voice?

I’m the worst at sitting anxiously with an email I can’t bear to open because What if? But I also hate this stage the most. You don’t want to feel the disappointment of bad news, but to avoid it you’re making space for your own inner critic to give you bad news over and over and over again.




HE operations manager; Coach; Writer of many things; Runner. In no particular order.