Last week we talked about the first of five ways to enhance your writing skills with an editorial calendar: “5 Days, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Writing Skills.” Hopefully, everyone has either gotten one going or taken a second look at their current one with an eye on the details I pointed out, including using it consistently, as motivation and to plan more than due dates.
Today it’s time to talk about becoming an editor to improve your writing skills. Editing the work of others gives writers invaluable perspective on the writing process and their own work.
Learn about voice
Often when a writer becomes an editor, they become more aware of what it means for a piece to have a ‘voice.’ A key job of an editor is to make the article, blog post, etc. ready for print without losing the voice of the writer. The ability to give an article personality that works with, instead of detract from, the information in the piece is essential for effective writing.
Learn about writing for audiences
Every writer is aware they are writing for an audience when they craft their piece, however, when you’re on the other side of the keyboard with an editor’s pen in hand, you become the publication’s readers. For example, if you’re a gadget magazine editor, you see that guy in the city coffee shop reading the latest tech article online, you see the mom in the suburbs taking a brief pause in the middle of her day to read your magazine to determine which smartphone will make her life easier, you can hear the techies’ cyberspace arguments over a pros-cons article on the new PC tablet. As an editor, these people are as real to you as the dollars they bring to the website or magazine every month. Once a writer understands that they are practically indispensable.
Learn about the editing process
An editor has to coordinate so many things on their end. Whether it’s editing for grammar, content, tone or length, etc., they are working from a whole publication perspective. Writers taking a turn at editing can learn to pick up on common grammar mistakes, spot cliches and rushed work from a mile away and are better able to put themselves in their editor’s shoes which leads to cleaner, focused work and a better relationship and reputation with editors.
It may not be feasible for every writer who reads Freelance Writing Jobs to run out and get an editing gig, but you can still develop those all important editing skills through taking on editing gigs at local colleges for students, securing a few editing projects or even re-editing published pieces as test exercises. Believe me, there are plenty out there that will provide good practice. Ask yourself: “Who is the piece geared toward?” “How can I make the article flow better?” “What information is missing?” Asking these questions of other writers will make it easier to ask them of yourself.
Are you a writer who edits? An editor who writes? How does it affect your writing?