Editors Are The Writer’s Best Friend. Here Are Some Tips On Working With Editors
The Importance Of Having An Editor When Writing
With self-publishing and blogging available to almost anyone these days, a good percentage of text written is released almost totally uneditied, or edited by the original author. That’s one reason why the general quality of writing, particularly on the Internet is continuing to get worse.
The Editor’s Job
We often think of an editor as someone who sits and nit-picks at small grammatical, spelling and typographical errors, and there’s no question that’s part of the editor’s job. If we focus on just those things, we lose the more essential role of an editor in helping authors/writers create readable, coherent, and clear writing.
Good editors can work wonders for authors who are less than perfect with their grammar (and who is perfect?) Their real value comes from two things: Editors are much more likely to provide an external perspective on the writing. They may not have subject matter expertise, but they are more similar to those reading your writing than you are. For that reason their perspective on text is often much more accurate than the original writer’s perspective. And that’s essential. It’s easy for us to write with US in mind, forgetting that the majority of our readers don’t have the knowledge or interest about our subject that we have. Having a person more similar to the readers helps us step out of our little writing world, and helps us write for the reader.
Second, editors, because they tend to be more dispassionate and detached from the subject, are the critical check on the coherence, and “sense” of what we write. As a writer you may never notice that your points ramble, or paragraphs contain information that distracts from your points. You may not see flaws in your report or content. A good editor will. So, the key part of being “edited”, is having someone who can look at your reasoning, logic, organization, and other elements that make your points either stand out, or get lost in the words.
Editors will also be able to help you trim the fat — removing what need not be there, because they will be more focused on the WORDS, than on their own internal thinking. That’s what sets the editor and author apart. Authors tend to focus on getting out what is in their heads and making it available to others through words, while editors should be looking only at the expression of the thoughts. That makes them invaluable if they are good.
Tips For Learning From An Editor
There is no substitute for a professional level editor, but of course, that’s not practical for many of us. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on blog readers to help you edit, via their comments, because it’s not their job to do that. Neither do they have the skills or interest. So, that leaves having access to someone to help you. It could be a spouse, trusted friend, etc, but even blog posts should have some external editing if you want them to be “authoritative”.
Listen. Stop Being Defensive
It’s not about being right or wrong, but about working together to produce a better text. Put aside your ego, listen without defensiveness, and you’ll find that not only does your current writing get better, but your writing skills will improve over time. It’s about learning. A good editor will indirectly (or sometimes directly) help you develop your own style or voice.
Guide Your Editor
If you have a friend or colleague edit your material, tell them what you want and don’t want from them. There’s nothing more frustrating than have a “friend editor” provide comments you aren’t interested in hearing, and without guidance the editor may become quickly frustrated as his input is shunted aside. Guide them by asking them to focus on what you perceive as your weaknesses. For example, if you tend to ramble, specifically ask the editor to flag any long sentences so they can be edited. Or, if you have trouble organizing your thoughts on paper/text ask the editor to help you with that.
Remember It’s Still YOUR Work
No matter what an editor suggests, it’s still YOUR work, and you make the final decisions (some exceptions apply to professional writers). You don’t HAVE to follow every editorial suggestions. But you should LISTEN to all of them. That’s what will help you improve over the long term. Remember that writers aren’t born, but grow into being great writers. It’s no different when it comes to your blogging, internal reports, or, for that matter, anything you write. And, it’s hard to grow as a writer without people from outside your head giving you perspective.
Originally published at work911.com.