Although on the same playing field, writing and editing are completely different ball games. They are both crucial parts of the publishing process and there’s a time and a place for each of them. It’s important to know where one ends and the other one begins.
A job in tech blog editing for Adevinta, a global classifieds specialist with online marketplaces including the likes of eBay and Gumtree, has come through bbd’s doors in recent months, giving us the challenge of finding the fine balance in ‘tech speak’, readability and relevance whilst using the originating author’s words and tone.
As a copywriter, putting an editing hat on can take some (a lot of) getting used to. Here are a few things to remember if you find yourself, as a writer, taking on the role as an editor:
- Even in a technically error-free piece, people will still want to make changes
One of the hardest things to realize is that perfection doesn’t exist. What you might consider a flawless and unimprovable piece of writing, others might look at it and think “oh, I’d put in more descriptions there” or “I would re-order this sentence to change the emphasis to this…”. Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is the best you can do. If the final product is the text that the writer and publisher intended, then you’ve done a good job. Well done.
- Make the most out of what you’ve got
It’s best to stick as close as possible to the author’s original writing for time, consistency and clarity. Just because you don’t like how something is written doesn’t give you reason to rewrite it. The author wrote what they did for a reason, and it’s your job to maintain the author’s intentions. If there are some things in the text that don’t make sense to you, check with the author on its purpose and take it from there.
- One problem at a time
There are normally three main areas where problems can surface within a piece of text: relevance, structure and style. Focusing on the area that has the biggest problem first will often reduce the problems in the other two areas. Don’t try to do everything at once. Tackle it one step at a time and try to follow a system to help you stay consistent down the line.
Right – now you’re ready to edit your first piece! I joke. You’re never ready and you’ll never feel ready. It takes time, patience and practice. But if you don’t start, you can’t get better. And an important thing to remember is that you can’t please everyone.