This is definitely the case of ‘I should heed my own advice’. Being a good editor is something I aspire to, not something I have necessarily mastered myself yet… It can be hard to be an encouraging and just editor at times. Inevitably, stress and deadlines set in and you may fall foul of some of your own editing rules. When working with other writers it’s essential that you cultivate good editing habits:
What NOT to do when editing someone’s work
- Edit without explaining
- Assume knowledge: be explicit if ever in doubt!
- Give out crap briefs….then blame others when they don’t deliver on said crap briefs
- Ignore re-occurring grammatical or structural problems: stop to fix them first and support your writer in overcoming them
- Just blindly quote grammar rules: tangible examples work best
- Edit with tunnel vision: try to see the piece as part of an ongoing dialogue with the writer
- Forget to ‘show your workings out’. Use comments and other textual features to explain the choices you’re making
- Be too shy about feedback: you need to be honest. Learn how to deliver bad news well
- Lie: be honest about why something isn’t working out
- Be overly stressed. Stress can make your brain fuzzy and your editing will suffer. Take a break and have a breather
- Just focus on the negatives: try to bolster writer self-esteem by highlighting your favourite points.