23 Inspiring (and funny) quotes about editing

Writers and editors love to make fun of ourselves. We know that our creative endeavors are hard, and a bit of levity never hurt anyone when trying to do something hard.

We’re also known for making quips about our profession and saying them in humorous yet thought-provoking ways.

Here are our favorite quotes about editing and writing.

David Ogilvy on editing before sending

Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

David Ogilvy on editing enough to show it to someone else

I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So, I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five edits, it looks good enough to show to the client.

T.S. Eliot on failed writers

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.

Patricia Fuller on being naked in public

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.

Sarah Vowell on being interesting

I’m a big fan of editing and keeping only the interesting bits in.

Joseph Kanon on appreciation

When you’re editing, you want to be the perfect appreciator, not another writer.

Joseph Kanon on the role of an editor

Being an editor doesn’t make you a better writer – or vice versa. The worst thing any editor can do is be in competition with his writer.

Rajkumar Hirani on editing as meditation

Editing is a meditative process. I enjoy it the most. I am not dealing with 200 people.

Samuel Johnson on originality and quality

Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.

Tiffany Madison on editing as prison

While writing is like a joyful release, editing is a prison where the bars are my former intentions and the abusive warden my own neuroticism.

S. Kelley Harrell on what editing does to the brain

A good editor doesn’t rewrite words, she rewires synapses.

Emma Hill on editing as color

The first draft is black and white, editing gives the story color.”

Jodi Picoult on the necessity of creating before editing

You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.

Susan Bell on reading well

An editor doesn’t just read, he reads well, and reading well is a creative, powerful act.

Ralph Waldo Emerson on omitting unnecessary words

Let the reader find that he cannot afford to omit any line of your writing because you have omitted every word that he can spare.

Richard Due on a text coming alive

I’ve reached that final moment of editing a book—the one where the text manifests as a living breathing person and starts slugging me in the face.

C. J. Cherryh on editing brilliantly

It is perfectly okay to write garbage — as long as you edit brilliantly.

Israelmore Ayivor on empty pages

A person who wrote badly did better than a person who does not write at all. A bad writing can be corrected. An empty page remains an empty page.

Dene October on whose needs an editor serves

A good editor is someone who cares a little less about the author’s needs than the reader’s.

Mark Twain on concise writing

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Gina McKnight on momentum

Writing is like riding a bike. Once you gain momentum, the hills are easier. Editing, however, requires a motor and some horsepower.

Russell Lynes on what an author truly dislikes

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.

Leya Delray on editing as dieting

Editing. It’s like dieting; except a lot more violent.

Hopefully these quotes give you some inspiration, made you think, and maybe also made you laugh.

What are your favorite quotes about editing?