And Remember...Writing Advice

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Graphic | EKHumphrey
I tried something new with my most recent editing classes. I created a survey in the middle of the class and, out of 33 students, I received a handful of responses. I wanted to know what they wanted to know about the editing industry.

The responses trickled in and I answered their questions during the final week. There were the “How can I find clients?” and Microsoft Word questions, but one question stuck out:

Q: What things do you wish someone had shared with you when you were first starting out in editing?

A: These are elements I think everyone should know, whether someone shared them with me in the beginning or if I just intuited them:
  •  Don’t judge your author.
  • Consistency is incredibly important.
  • Don’t edit from the original document. (Always make a copy!)
  • Give yourself downtime and break during an edit. You’ll be a better editor for it.
  • Don’t overbook yourself.
  • In editing, perfection is unattainable, but try to get as close as you can.
  • Remember you are human.

Expanding these to writing is not too difficult. So, here are my answers if you had asked me what do I wish someone had shared with me when I first started out writing. As with my editing, it’s been so long since I started, I’m not sure if others advised me about these or not…! But these would be the start of what I would tell someone starting out in writing:
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself about your own progress. All your writing friends may have completed their 160th NaNoWriMo novel, but it’s okay if you want to take your time to craft your novel.
  • Constancy is important for getting the words down. Carry a notebook and pen. Make daily appointments to write. You’ll be much better for it.
  • Backup your work. (I have the original 3.5-inch floppy disks from my early writings and have hard copies!) You just never know when you will want to reread what you wrote eight years ago.
  • Get up and take a break or a walk. Your writing will improve if you get up and look around the world beyond your computer screen.
  • Perfection comes from polishing your prose. Revise (and revise again!) to make that prose shine. 
  • Make conscious decisions. Know why you should use this word over that one. Your writing will thank you.
  • Take writing classes and read books. Lots of books! Your life will be richer for it and your knowledge will soar.
  • Never give up.
What do you wish someone had told you when you first started writing? As a writer, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in North Carolina. She also reviews for San Francisco Book Review.


Margo Dill said...

Some advice is not right! :) That's what I wish someone would have told me. It's another case where you have to listen to your gut when being critiqued or when someone is telling you how to get published/what matters and what doesn't. I don't think I followed bad advice too often, but when I was young, I soaked up everything and just did it. UGH! This is a great post with great advice! :) LOL

Unknown said...

Proofread! I think that is the 'mascara' on the face writing. Nothing one writes is complete without a 'second pair of eyes'.

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