3 Ways Editing is like Dealing with an Unruly Toddler

The end of the year is all about looking back on twelve months, 52 weeks, 365 days of living. And this sort of retrospection is important in our writing lives as well as in our personal lives. That’s what last week’s post was about how to approach something you wrote in the past with an eye toward the future.

But not every day of the year is for business and serious self improvement.

Sometimes, you need to have a little fun. So this week’s retrospective musings are all about a comparison I made a few posts ago between editing and toddlers.

It was a bit infuriating of me to make that comparison then drop it, so here ya go–3 ways editing a first draft of any type of writing is like dealing with an unruly toddler.

#1: Communication Issues

Much like a toddler, your writing at this stage knows what it wants to say, but is not quite saying it. There’s a communication problem that will result in Very Bad Things. With the toddler, it usually results in fits. With writing, it results in an unengaged and uninformed audience.

You don’t want that.

So you edit it. You can’t edit the toddler, of course, but you can teach her how to deal with her feelings, teach her how to communicate her feelings successfully.

When you’ve accomplished these tasks for the draft and for the toddler, you’ll have done a good job you can be proud of.

#2: Confusion Between “Need” and “Want”

My toddler “needs” all the things. He needs candy. He needs that toy. He needs to watch Moana right now. He needs Mama to sing “You’re Welcome.”

He doesn’t really need these things, of course. He wants them. But bless his little Moana-loving heart, wants feel very much like needs at this stage of life.

Same goes for this stage of the writing process. You want to do so much with your words. You want to keep this section and that phrase and those ideas. But maybe you don’t need them. Developmental editing requires you to recognize the difference between wanting and needing and to, as the saying goes, kill your darlings.

And by “darlings,” I mean beloved writing passages, of course. Not the toddlers.

#3: Raw Materials with Lots of Potential

writing and editing

Your manuscript is probably a rough draft. It’s a bit out of control and not particularly refined. But OH the potential within those pages.

As I write this I asked my toddler for a hug and he screamed, “NO I GOTTA EAT LUNCH.”

Yep, that’s your first draft. It’s talking in full sentences, focused on the important stuff, but when you try to give it love, it throws a tiny tantrum.

That’s okay. Each draft will make it a little more refined until one day it’s ready to stand on its own two feet.

And maybe after lunch, when that tummy is full, I’ll get my hug. 🙂


Raising a tiny toddler of a manuscript is hard, so like every good parent, you need a few #hacks! My Quick Trick for Getting Good Feedback will help you #hack your way to feedback from readers that you can actually DO SOMETHING with. Take a sneak peek below!

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