Why editing in a bad mood may not be a good idea

Man in bad mood with computer
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Think about how your day goes when you’re in a bad mood. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • Are you more likely to be grumpy?
  • Have less patience towards other people?
  • Do you notice negative things more?
  • Do you overreact to small things?
  • Are you less objective?

These are just a few listed. But they can and often lead us into a downward spiral the rest of the day. We often make bad decisions when we’re in a bad mood. And sometimes, we can be downright hard on ourselves.

Moods matter in everyday situations. So why wouldn’t moods also matter when we’re editing?

Editing in a bad mood can lead to overcritizing our work and giving free rein to our self-doubt. These are unhelpful and can even be hurtful. Imagine deleting the best paragraph of your story because of your mood? Or making a decision not to write again when you’re not being objective?

It would be easy to use this as an excuse to put off editing. I mean, most of us think editing is the hardest part of writing, and we look for any small reason to procrastinate. But just like we have to make ourselves write when we’re not in the mood, we also have to make ourselves edit. Time is short and if you have the time to write or edit, then sit down and do it.

But how do you overcome your mood to make editing productive?

Every person and bad mood is a little different. I suggest you figure out what applies to you first.

Why are you in this mood? Is it something you can fix? Or make plans to tackle? Or is it something out of your control that you need to let go of?

Is it physical? Are you tired? Hungry? Be sure to take care of your basic needs. I know you want to edit as fast as possible, and I want you to sit down and do the work, but sometimes you need to take a break to be at your best. You’ll need to decide what’s right for you.

For me, I like to take my dog on a walk. I listen to the birds, smell the honeysuckle or whatever flowers are blooming, I even talk to the cows. It’s a cross between exercise and mindfulness.

But don’t wait until you’re about to sit down to edit to question your mood. Plan a routine ahead of time that will help you sustain a positive mood daily.

The self-care habits suggested for your personal or work-life will also work for your writing life. Here are some tips from Oprah Magazine.

What tools and habits work for you to help you get in the right mood to edit?

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