When I first became a writer – back when I leaned into the learned Enneagram 1 component of my 4 personality – I felt like being told my writing needed some editing meant that I had somehow failed as a creative. I felt judged. I felt deficient. I felt… Unworthy.
But as I have developed my career as a writer and editor myself, I’ve learned to embrace and celebrate being edited. (And I do use this phrase intentionally; when our words are edited, it feels like we are being edited.)
Each time my work is edited by a skilled editor who gives me any kind of feedback, I can develop and grow as a writer and editor myself – if I will simply embrace that.
They help me do the hard things – make the hard calls – trim the fat of my writing – eliminate the “darlings” that really ought to find life in another piece.
The key, though, is having editors who are skilled and compassionate at once. I’ve worked with editors who were not writers themselves (or at least hadn’t done any writing in a long time!) and editors who’ve been writing as much as I have in recent days.
You can tell the difference in many cases. The editors who frequently write themselves usually have more empathy for the emotional connections writers have with our work.
But you do need that editor who will call out your crappy writing, too. Not just give you a pass because you like a phrase or want to express a particular thought in a specific way only.
The good editors will say, “I know you know what this means, but the average reader won’t – and we’re appealing to more than just your family here.”
It can be hard to be called on lower quality writing (or sleepy writing riddled with errors) or bad storytelling or … Well, anything that doesn’t meet your own standards. But it’s good to be.
And so I’ve learned to embrace being edited. And though it’s personal (this is my baby – my writing we’re talking about!), being edited makes me better at writing. I can see my bad habits, my tendencies to overwrite, my inconsistent language use, and much more.
And being edited helps me grow as an editor, too. I can apply what I learn in being edited to how I edit others’ works. Is this going to be sensitive? Is this going to be gentle enough for a painful topic? Is this too soft and squishy for a writer that has greatness in them but needs help finding it? Is this something to look out for in another person’s writings?
So, the next time you’re edited, I encourage you to lean into it. Embrace it. Welcome it. And learn how to take the edits as they’re meant: not as a critique of your person, but as a helpful perspective that you can’t get on your own.
Editor-in-Chief of The MockingOwl Roost, Rita Mock-Pike is the granddaughter of aviatrix, Jerrie Mock, first woman to pilot an airplane solo around the world. Rita has found inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theatre, podcasting, novel writing, and cooking up delicious food from around the world. She now writes on food, travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves the very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.