A thing or two about editing


It is a rare alien life form who can write and edit simultaneously, at the same time, within the same person. Typically when that happens, it’s not a real internal editor who’s working in conjunction with and collaboratively with the real internal writer. Nope. It’s the monster internal editing machine who wants to do strange things to the writer and mess with the product of the writering process.

So for those of us who are not rare alien life forms, we work with someone who will edit our work. Ideally that’s a good editor. Someone who knows writing and reading. Words and communication. Storylines and meaning. In other words, a different kind of wonderful alien life form, not bent on world domination, or internal critiques of no goodness, who is only interested in being midwife to good words, good stories, good writering product.

It is true that many writers are also editors. And that’s a good thing, I suppose. But not ALL writers are good editors. Writing is a different skill set than editing. And often, (but not always) good editors have better people skills than do writers.

Still, I don’t need my editing skills today.

I’m writing about editing because at this moment I am editing three articles in my head as I sit to write them. Worse, I am super copyediting them. You might know that stage. It’s past the editing stuff of flow and words and placement and story and making sense and into the magnifying glass sleuthing part of editing for spaces, grammar, typeface, alignment, margins, and punctuation.

That’s not my typical process.

The timer is ticking then tocking and the deadlines are looming and I am thinking about the editing in superfine detail?

Yes, well. Sometimes, we have to work backwards to go forwards. Even in writing. Diversionary tactics. Methinks my self is not enjoying the subject(s) I am writing about and so by diving into the editing before I’ve produced anything more than a page, I can totally grump myself out of writing today up to and including inventing imaginary alien life forms. And I’m a non-fiction writer.

Clearly, I need to go for a bike ride or do a head stand or have lunch; get my mind on something else for a little while, after I take the easy way out and write a wee post about it.

After all, I only have to write a column and two features in two weeks about things I never write about. How hard can it be after two months of dedicated research? I can let a day slide.



About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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One Response to A thing or two about editing

  1. Pingback: Editing is Hard | My Writer's Cramp

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