I'm in the process of editing a novel and I'll be honest -- sometimes, it's easier to get a little lazy. I've edited this manuscript about three times already, so sometimes, it's easier just to "read" and call that editing. To tell myself that my only job is to catch the big inconsistencies, find the grammar mistakes, remove obvious cliches, etc. Rather than to EDIT. Rather than to dig in, examine each sentence with a literary magnifying glass, to make certain that every word "earns its right to live" on that page. Because that's what needs to happen, I think, in the final editing process. We're supposed to be picky. We're supposed to examine our own writing in excruciating detail. And most importantly, to hold ourselves up to the highest possible standard.
What inspires me to get "picky" with my own writing is to read someone better than me. To pick up a novel where the descriptions are rich and lush and poetic and purposeful. To pause after I read a paragraph and think, "Wow. I wish I could do that."
Watching someone else rise to their better writing self, reach their own potential, makes me want to reach mine.
And because I experienced that last night (reading a passage that made me think, "Wow!"), I'm going to up my game today, in my own writing. I'm going to edit carefully, slowly. To give my work the attention it deserves. And to give my (hopefully) future readers the best they deserve.