Writing takes love, self confidence, optimism, and hope in order to complete anything. But editing, I am coming to believe, takes hate, pessimism, and self-disgust.
A writer has to be two people, two halves isolated from each other–the writing half is an excited person full of energy and love for the words they are creating (ideally). But when its time to edit, you better hate those words enough to slash them to pieces and bury them in an unmarked grave, all while laughing and spitting on them for how terrible they are.
Have I mastered this? I don’t know. But it helps, I think, to imagine the words as someone else’s. Some other me who is a terrible writer and I can scoff at their incompetence and point out every single flaw. Then once everything is highlighted and marked and notated, I can turn back into the creative optimist and fix it all up.
That’s the plan anyway. It is pretty hard!