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5 Things Being an Editor Taught Me About Absolutely Everything.

March 8, 2016

Editing and Life 

Sometimes the job of editing gets a bad rap. Editors are seen as the grouchy gatekeepers between creativity and results or the unnecessary frivolous expenditure at the very end of a project. But really? We are all editing all of the time. Some of us have just spent more time developing our editorial senses.

In recent years, there has been a pretty hefty attempt to put the word “curate” into common use. But really, most of the time, we are not “curating” – we are simply editing. Years of editing words has taught me how useful it is to look at all of my other activities through the eyes of an editor. It makes all sorts of difficult decisions easier.

Here are 5 key things that the role of editing has taught me about absolutely everything.

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  1. PROCESS.

Editors know that behind every brilliant end result is a process – one that takes time and a lot of drafts, each with a different goal in mind. This is not a one-and-done game – there are very few of those in the real world. Whether the focus is a project proposal, a business plan, a book, a blog post, or a gallery wall, it’s going to require a lot of handling and re-handling – and normally more process means more time.

2. COMMUNITY.

Editors know that it takes a team – a multitude of voices, to produce a strong result. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; someone else will catch what you may have missed. Genius is rarely a one-man Super Bowl. Generally, in business and in life, a great result is achieved through a group of people supporting each other and contributing from their individual areas of strength.

3. IMPERFECTIONS.

Editors know that imperfections in a product aren’t personal – they’re just reality. Typos in a manuscript, overlooked expenses in a budget proposal, clothes from the last decade that have managed to hang on – these things happen. We don’t run from imperfect – we tackle it through a process and with a plan.

4. A PLAN.

Editors understand the importance of a clearly defined plan. Great results won’t come from staring at the same page (or screen or closet or canvas) the same way day after day. Define a plan. Move from the big picture to the small details. Give yourself space to clear your head between drafts. This procedure leads to the solution for most of life’s most pressing questions . (Don’t believe me? Try it.)

5. CULLING. 

An editor is the ultimate clutter-buster. Not all of the paragraphs, adjectives, stories, clothes, ideas, strategies, shoes, or colors can stay. Editing is basically synonymous with throwing stuff out the window (head-nod to Marie Kondo). Editors know that something – in fact most things – must go. Out with the good to make room for the best.

Did I miss something? What would you add to this list?

Here’s a fun quote to Pin as a reminder:

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