How a good editor can build your confidence as a writer

In talking to people about the idea of How’s my English, we often heard about bad experiences with editors in the past: “They changed everything and I didn’t understand what I did wrong.”

Not only did nobody learn anything from this experience, but often the person whose text has been edited loses confidence and feels discouraged.

Of course, for the editor it’s a great way of keeping themselves in work because none of their clients ever get better!

When I was 21 I became a trainee journalist on a local newspaper.

Proudly, I submitted my first ‘big’ story for publication, only to open the paper and see it had been completely re-written. Barely a sentence of my lovingly-crafted copy remained.

Later, senior reporters would rip my copy to shreds in front of me, but at least that showed me what I had done wrong – and I learned, until one day it was my turn to do the editing.

I always found new writers learned much quicker when encouraged and nurtured.

If their copy had a few rough edges, I would tidy them up. If a paragraph needed re-writing here and there, I would do it, but make sure the writer understood why.

To be fair, if it was really bad – deadlines permitting – the writer would be asked to do it again.

Editors have the power to be cruel

I remember how it felt to see my story in the paper, only completely changed. I felt like I’d failed, and at one point stopped making the effort because I knew that whatever I wrote would be changed.

And some professional editors can encourage that behaviour in their clients.

If you’re trying to build confidence as a writer, especially in a foreign language, it’s the last thing you need.

It also doesn’t help the relationship between an editor and their client.

Light touch editing

As a blogger, you need to develop a voice – your own unique writing style. Your writing on your blog should sound, on the whole, how you speak.

A heavy-handed editor will lose your voice in changing everything that ‘could be better’ and leave you none the wiser.

Our ‘light touch’ editing retains your voice as much as possible in your writing.

You’ll always know what we changed and why we changed it, and we keep changes to a minimum – unless you ask us to be strict (which happens).

Our aim is for you to learn from our edits and grow as an English langauge writer.

And you’ll only do that with encouragement.

Photo by Sole Treadmill

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