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Editing Work

Annette Young

One of the good things about having a blog is that you get to rant occasionally and vent your frustrations and one of my all-time writing hates is when writers submit sub-standard work to publishers. Frankly I don’t understand it.

 Editing work is an essential part of the writing process and it reeks of unprofessionalism if the writer does not make that extra effort to polish their work. It certainly doesn’t bode well if the writer does not have the ability to see a project through to completion and most publishers would reject work received that is inundated with errors.

 We all make the odd mistake when editing work, especially if we have been immersed in a writing project that is long and intense and have read and re-read every word over and over again. No wonder the odd spelling mistake sneaks through our careful checks but mistakes should be few and far between and not littered throughout each paragraph blazing a trail of carelessness for all to see.

As a writer, I try to edit carefully but I’m only human and I have spotted an odd mistake after sending work out (imagine the mental berating) and the reason it happens is because we have read our work to death and the brain, following this repetitive process, knows just what word we were supposed to have written and chooses to see that word and not the one that we actually typed. The mind can certainly play tricks and one tip to avoid this scenario would be to read your work aloud as this will highlight obvious errors. Imagine you have an audience and are projecting your words for maximum impact; this can often bring silly errors to light. Alternatively, if someone else is available, ask them to check it for you.

As a writing coach, I know that I will often read first draft work with many barely concealed mistakes and although the errors scream at me, I don’t expect it to be flawless as the writer is focussing on learning new techniques and the polishing takes place later but as a publisher, I get fed up when final drafts are sent to me and these are still riddled with errors. It does seem as if sometimes apparently professional writers expect me to polish and edit their work for them. The same goes for competition entries, I can understand writers wanting their work to stand out but sending crumpled, poorly checked submissions only stands out in a negative way.

Whilst there are many writers who will spend a great time editing work and who care about their submission, there are sadly those who won’t commit to the full process of writing and take time and care over their ‘baby’ before sending it out in to the world, so if this is you, take a moment to rethink your processes and reasoning, do you really want to be a professional writer? If the answer is yes, then editing work is vital and calls for a commitment from start to finish.

Rant over.

 Annette Young

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One Comment

  1. Elaine Patrick December 16, 2009

    Hi Annette,

    I don’t blame you for your rant. I know I would not like to have to sift through some of the stuff that some editors have to.

    There is always the person that thinks the rules don’t apply to them. So if a certain font size and spacing is requested by the publisher, it is not to be awkward, but for ease of reading and space for comment.

    But you always get the person who thinks their manuscript is so good that they can get away with writing in coloured pen on fancy paper stuffed into a bright envelope that they reckon will stand out from the slush pile.

    All that does is make the editor think, ‘Here is a person who does not listen and therefore even were their writing to be exceptional would be very hard to work with, (I imagine!).

    I cannot lie, I have sent work out that I have found later to have a typo in it. It is so annoying and I torture myself endlessly with thoughts of ‘They’re going to think I’m an amateur.’

    However, Editors are human,(honestly!),and as long as they can see that your work is the best you can send I think they will forgive one typo!!!

    But you do owe it to yourself to send out the best work you can. The rest, i.e. whether it is accepted for publication, you cannot control, but you’ve given your writing the best possible start.

    Keep up the good work Annette, I think you deserve a medal!

    Elaine Patrick

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