Wednesday 27 January 2016

How I Write #12: Perils of an Editor's Eye

Welcome back to How I Write. I covered quite a few topics last year, and this year I will look at several more. My plan is to post once a month and alternate between tips/musings and updates on my writing. We'll kick off with a musing: the difficulties writers and readers face when they are also an editor.

I've been working as a freelance editor for nearly two years now, and I love it. This is the first time I've been 100 percent happy in my employment; something that is very important, wouldn't you agree? I love liaising with the authors and (hopefully) helping them to achieve the best possible result. But it comes with its drawbacks for me, personally, as an author and avid reader.

Writer Problems

As you might suppose, there is one obvious drawback to being both editor and writer, and that is the fact you constantly critique your own work. Most days I try not to self-edit as I go, wanting to get a first draft out before I worry about such things, but it doesn't always work, and I can find myself agonising over a single sentence for many minutes. This slows my progress on first drafts, naturally, but it's not all doom and gloom. The first draft may take longer, but subsequent drafts are a breeze because the manuscript is already 80-85 percent perfect.

Reader Problems

Remember when you could read a book and simply enjoy the story? Nope, not anymore. No matter how hard I try, I cannot now turn off my editor's eye when I read. This doesn't mean I no longer take pleasure in reading, but it does mean I can't fully immerse as I once did; a part of me is always tutting over a grammar error or typo. It's sad, in a way, yet I suppose it is an occupational hazard!

So, there you have it. I hope that answers the questions of several people who have queried whether it's difficult to be both editor and author. In conclusion, I can say the dual role does come with its challenges, but I wouldn't change my current employment situation for all the world.

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