As you may or may not know, I am an editor. I’ve been at this for nigh on 30 years, so I pretty much edit automatically. (Like menus, grocery store signs, reader boards outside porn shops. If someone can write it, I *will* edit it, at least in my mind. If I find it funny, I’ll even take a picture with my mighty phone.)
Except when it comes to my own work. I can’t just read and edit my own work. I’m way too involved and have a love/hate relationship with it. So I’ve had to figure out some ways to approach it that make me detach from it.
I used to edit from the beginning. The first two chapters of my upcoming book have been edited to the point I don’t even know what they say anymore. (Sort of like saying your own name over and over until it starts sounding funny.) The end result? I couldn’t remember how the book ended because I never got there.
Then I tried editing a few chapters at a time. While this seems obvious, again I found myself forgetting about the rest of the book in my quest to polish chapters 11 and 12.
Finally, I sat down and read the whole book in one sitting. Three times. Found lots of plot holes, some copyediting problems, and a few unclassifiable oddities. But I got too involved in the story and missed a lot of stuff. (I know, I wrote it. I should know how it turns out. But I must have some sort of filter that makes me forget. I have this same problem with my editorial work. I can read the same book several times, during several phases of production, and still find new things.) (I prefer to think of it as a filter rather than the natural progression of aging.)
So now I’m editing my book backwards. I’ve used this trick before on short stuff, and on other people’s short work, but I’ve never read a whole book from back to front. It’s an odd experience. But, so far, it seems to be working. Maybe it wouldn’t work if I didn’t know the whole story. And I don’t read it backwards word-by-word. I’m going scene-by-scene. This forces me to look at each scene as a discrete piece of writing. It’s interesting. Sometimes I find myself wondering what comes before!
Anyway, if reading your own book is wearing you down, turn it on its head. You might find it helpful.