E is for Editing

There’s something particularly satisfying about a well crafted document. Writing is only a part of it, though. Before writing comes planning and researching, and afterwards comes editing. I enjoy a good meaty editing job, and I actually enjoy being edited. Either ought to be a two-way process, though. As an editor, I sometimes find a clause or sentence where the meaning is unclear, and have to ask the writer to clarify what message they intended to get across so we can work together to produce the perfect piece of prose to convey that message. As a writer, there are always places in my documents where I’m just too close to the text to see when a section could have been phrased better, or to pick up on really obvious typos that my eyes have passed over more than once.

Of course, there are tricks to improve one’s chances of self-editing. Going away and working on something completely different for a day or two — or longer if time allows — can be almost as good as coming to the piece completely fresh. Or studying the text from a completely different perspective — whether physically in terms of reformatting the whole, or mentally in terms of reading sections out of context and interrogating them individually rather than as part of a whole — can always be of help.

The key to self-editing, or to making life easier for another to edit a piece after it’s been written, though, is to use the tools available. Make use of spellcheckers — I’m always amazed when organisations send me e.g. meeting minutes as Word documents full of red underlinings. Reread what’s been written. Think for a while before publishing.

Of course, I’m running late, and having written about editing, there’s bound to be an obvious typo in this piece.

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