There’s something you need to know. It’s your editor… She’s hiding something from you.
It’s nothing ominous, don’t you worry. But it’s a secret nonetheless. And one I’m going to let out of the bag right now.
You see, an editor’s job is to shape an article, webpage, blog post – whatever it is you’ve handed to them – into more beautiful, more correct, more flowing text.
She’s not just eliminating typos, but enhancing the language, improving upon the words set down on the page by your tip-tapping fingers, lifting them so they truly speak to the audience, and do so consistently throughout the piece, with no random ramblings or superfluous speech.
Here’s the catch.
Sometimes there is very little to improve.
And this is her secret…
You’re a better writer than you think you are
It’s an inconvenient truth for an editor that some writing is already really rather brilliant. Sometimes, the fewer changes made the better.
Occasionally, text is typo-free.
Grammar? You’ve got it handled.
And honestly, the way you phrased that, well, she couldn’t have put it better herself.
The writing is tight. It doesn’t gush or go on tangents. That idea is well-articulated. It’s precise, clear, but above all engaging.
Perhaps you receive some feedback that you did a good job. However, she doesn’t go overboard on the compliments, because there’s always more to learn. She doesn’t want you to think you’ve cracked it, because good writers need editors just as much as novices. Face it, if you’re told you’re shit-hot at writing, would you be tempted to skip straight to publish without a second look? I know I would.
Here’s why my approach is a little different
Magazines hire editors because they need accurate and interesting articles. Newspapers hire editors to get up-to-the-minute news out the door in a fast and appropriate fashion. Entrepreneurs, however, hire not only so their content looks great but also for that often-elusive confidence.
A writer for a publication needs a story. An entrepreneur needs a sale.
A journalist has to turn in writing because it’s their job. They don’t need confidence. They have a salary. And a deadline.
An entrepreneur, however, has a hundred things to do that day. And if you don’t feel good about writing, guess what’s at the bottom of the list?
Yup, that’s right.
Communications drop off the radar when we don’t feel good about writing
It’s important that editors for online businesses can relate to this. I see it as part of my job to make sure the writer knows what they’re getting right at least as much as where they’re going wrong.
Encouragement is a unique aspect of the editing process that I’ve introduced, because I know what it’s like to work with an editor who takes what I call the Red Pen Approach.
And really, you hire an editor to help you fix the problems and to learn how to improve. How can you learn how to make your writing better if the focus is always “don’t do this, don’t do that”? How will you know what to keep? How can you pinpoint what worked?
Your writing is good
It really is.
I know that because only great writers know they need an editor.