I cringed as I saw how many changes he made to the press release I spent two hours writing. Eek. Did I really do THAT bad a job?
There is something defeating about letting someone else read your work and make a zillion changes. I often get the
impression that people feel as though an editor will wash over your hard work with a sea of red ink reminsicent of your high school English papers.
Um, no. I’m using a computer. I can pick any color you want.
But seriously, we all need an editor. And here’s why:
4. Vision – Even if yours is 20/20, you’re going to miss something. A comma, a period, the word “the” spelled “that.” We all make typos and put words in the wrong place. By the time you finish producing dozens of white pages, the words become a mantra and cannot be distinguished. You need some fresh eyes to catch that glaring error.
3. Perspective – Whatever you are writing is for a specific audience. An editor will observe phrases, double meanings and oddball statements that might irritate or confuse your reader. Sarah Palin played fine in Alaska, but the lower 48 wasn’t sure how to interpret some of her attitudes and expressions. We don’t always need a translator, per se, but another viewpoint and history on your work will help make it clear to your target audience.
2. Lessons – In truth, my first press release wasn’t that bad, but there were a lot of things I didn’t know. I was not aware of certain styles and formats preferred by that group. If you choose the right editor, he or she probably knows something you don’t. As my dad always said, “You have to ears and one mouth for a reason. You learn a lot more with your mouth shut.”
And finally …
1. Feedback – I attended a Raleigh Pecha Kucha event recently during which someone mentioned how marvelous it is to have feedback. Yes, it is. I won’t give you that “No man is an island” crap or even “Two heads are better than one.” But feedback is how we grow and change in this world — and that includes our writing. What if I missed an angle that would make the piece stronger? Does this copy, written in delirious Kerouac style at 2 a.m. even make any sense?
And if nothing else, it’s nice to hear “good job” once in awhile.