The writer needs to write to tell the story. The reader needs to read in order to enjoy it.
Sadly, they don’t always need the same words.
The biggest breakthrough I’ve made as an editor has been realizing that that’s okay.
Personally, I’m the kind of writer that processes things through the physical act of writing. I learn about my characters by writing them. I figure out my plot by writing it. But just because I needed to write something in order to grasp it doesn’t mean the reader needs to read it.
The biggest consequence of this epiphany has been that I’ve been letting a lot more of my words hit the cutting room floor. Yes, I needed to write all of that backstory in order to make it come alive in later chapters. But if I leave it where I wrote it, it slows my story down and bores the reader with too much information.
Words that I edited out aren’t wasted. They’re just not necessary for the reader to ever read. And that doesn’t make it any less essential for me to have written them.