Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tips on Editing for the Procrastinating Writer

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

What does the procrastinating writer do when she’s run out of time to edit, and a book is due in twenty-four hours? Ever been there? A sick feeling in the pit of our stomach says we can't hit the snooze button. 

Unfortunately, an extension is out of the question, because procrastination has attacked the writer in the past. Time to take action. 

What can a writer do to have the biggest impact on the writing project?

My husband says to eat a half gallon of Bluebell ice cream, send up a prayer, and hit send—LOL! All that will do is add pounds and sink the writer into depression.

Better idea! Brew a pot of coffee or grab the caffeine of your choice and dive into one or more of the following options:

3 ways to edit a book with powerful results.
  1. Use grammar and spellcheck. Check each instance. Don’t do a replace all. Verify each edit for appropriate use.
  2. Invest in text to voice software. Download the manuscript into the application and follow along on your copy. Be prepared to make changes. This process takes time, but you’ll be up all night anyway. This is my favorite tool for editing.
  3. Send a chapter(s) to your writer friend(s) with a plea for help! The question is, how many friends are willing to read and offer constructive feedback in a short time? Select wisely. Sometimes bribery is necessary. 

Dear writer, vow to make life changes that ensure a deadline doesn’t destroy your sanity again. The stress isn’t good for your heart and being late is a killer for future contracts. 

3 ways to safeguard a deadline.
  1. When a contract is received, pull up the calendar. Back up two months from the due date. Count the number of weekdays that are free to write between now and then. Don’t include holidays, conferences, or vacations. Take the number of work days and divide it into the word count needed for the project. That will give the word count needed for each writing day. This ensures your book will be completed two months before the due date, giving the writer ample time to edit.
  2. Safeguard writing time by informing family and friends of your goals. Be transparent and share the importance of your dreams.
  3. Stay diligent. Enlist an accountability partner, especially if it’s difficult to stay on task.

When a writer hits send with a quality project, then she can celebrate with a bowl of ice cream. What steps do you take to meet deadlines? 


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook:, Twitter: or any of the social media platforms listed at


  1. Excellent tips, Diann. I especially liked the bribery idea. :)

  2. Great advice Ms. DiAnn. The best; avoid getting into that last minute situation in the first place. I would always tell my writing teams; "If you only leave eight hours for an edit, you only get an eight-hour edit." My challenge is that even when I self-edit, then have other edits, I look back at my work a month later and still find a mistake. Then I get myself crazy all over again. Have to learn to let go of perfect. God's blessings ma'am...

  3. Thanks, Cathy, Love your instructions! Getting our initial words on paper is essential - but editing brings the manuscript to life.

  4. Very wise advice,DiAnn! I'm a procrastinator as well, though only on newspaper and blog articles. Can you advise on which text-to-voice software you use?

  5. Great advice, DiAnn! I highly recommend for editing help for only $40/year. This great program will check for about 25 different types of errors in your ms and you can get the version to integrate with MSWord. It's a great help and FAST. You can send in a trial piece to see this program strut its editing help before buying a year's contract.
    Elva Cobb Martin

  6. Great ideas! I just hired a book coach/accountability partner because apparently I wasn't going to finish my manuscript any other way.

    1. We all need to find the tools to get a job done. Glad you found what you needed.

  7. I like your explanation of how to schedule writing time two months ahead of deadline. It's so easy for time to slip past without us being aware of how many days we've lost.

    1. Thanks, Karen, for me, I do best when I'm ahead of the game.

  8. I know I'm finding this wayyyyy late, but this is time I need it. No one but me will see this, but thank you, DiAnn.